Van Gisbergen and Evans Claim First V8 Title with BNT NZ Supertourers Victories
Shane Van Gisbergen and Simon Evans won all three races at the final round of the BNT NZ SuperTourers endurance series at Pukekohe – claiming their first V8 titles.
“That’s my first championship since Formula Ford, though I did win the international series of the Toyota Racing Series -- I’m pretty excited about it,” Van Gisbergen, who is one of the top drivers in V8 Supercars, said after a particu...larly difficult victory at the Fuchs 500 meeting this afternoon.
It was a totally dominant championship victory, as Van Gisbergen and his old friend Evans won seven of the nine races during the three-round series in their Smeg Commodore.
But the final race was terribly fraught. It started dry then turned to rain, forcing the cars to stop and change to wet-weather tyres, and later the track dried out again.
“I made the call then to pit for slicks – I could see that Murphy was fast on his slicks and I saw the rain go past,” Van Gisbergen said. His weather forecasting proved accurate, as the rain stayed away and the track steadily dried out.
Coming out of the pits after the time-consuming pit stop, Van Gisbergen was more than a lap behind leader Tim Edgell, also in a Commodore, with 20 laps to go. As the track dried out Van Gisbergen scythed through the field and hit the lead with a few laps to go.
“That was a lot of fun but it was pretty tough,” he said. Evans also drove superbly and he finished second in the series. Van Gisbergen had scored extra points for his fine qualifying performances. Aucklander Evans felt he had proved himself and is now looking to Australia to further his career.
“I’d love to race in the Dunlop V8 Supercars Development Series and get the experience of different cars and different teams, but it’s just finding the money,” he said.
In this morning’s race Evans led till hard-charging teenager Andre Heimgartner came past, but when Van Gisbergen took over the car he cleared away to win by more than 40 seconds – a huge margin.
Second in that race went to experienced Aucklander Angus Fogg and Australian Tony D’Alberto, with Greg Murphy taking third sharing his car with another Australian, Jack Perkins. Both teams drove Commodores.
Edgell and his Australian co-driver Steve Owen brought their Commodore home third in that final race, and were second overall for the round. They led the final race for a time, as Edgell stayed on wet-weather tyres that were taking a beating on the dry track.
“That was probably the most difficult stint I’ve ever driven in a racing car,” Edgell said. “Coming over the hill one time I had the steering wheel on its stops [controlling a skid].
“The guys did a good pit stop and got us out in front.” Auckland’s Mitch Cunningham experienced the highs and lows of motor racing over the weekend. He retired yesterday and missed this morning’s race with a mechanical failure in his Falcon but came back in style to take second in the final heat, also staying out on wet tyres for the last part of the race.
“We started last in in the final race so to lead this afternoon and finish second is pretty good,” he said. “The tyres had nothing left at the end but we had to stay out – you need to change early or stay out.”
Fogg led the first part of the final race but a mistake spun him into a wall, the damage putting his Commodore out of the event.
Australian Supercar driver Tim Slade finished third in the championship, co-driving young Aucklander Richard Moore’s Commodore, although they finished only 11th this morning after a flat tyre necessitated an extra pit stop. They were second yesterday and eighth this afternoon.
Murphy was not able to end his BNT NZ SuperTourers career on a high note, he and Perkins coming in fourth in the final race after he was the first to switch to slicks as the rain eased off. “Our car is not a winner at the moment and we have no idea why,” the double champion said. “It’s not the best way to end our foray in this category.”
Perkins finished fifth in the series, and Murphy sixth.
The 2014-2015 BNT NZ SuperTourers championship continues with four sprint-race meetings in the early part of next year. #NZST#Fuchs500