It is 6 consecutive wins to begin the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship for Shane van Gisbergen and his Red Bull Holden Racing team.
That is an accomplishment that matches those of Mark Scaife, and Alan Moffat’s amazing records – something few thought would ever be matched in the highly competitive modern Australian championship. Yet for those that recognize his incredible competitiveness, it was something he was always capable of; and even more incredible when, only a month earlier, his 2021 season had been in doubt.
Quite unbelievable, when you are aware that in a cycling accident the New Zealand driver had broken his collarbone and three ribs! A debilitating injury for most, yet Shane van Gisbergen approached the Sandown round of the V8 Supercars calendar with the same aggressive attitude which has seen him become one of the more respected and confident Holden drivers in the field.
Capping off those opening two rounds race victories with an amazing sixth consecutive 2021 season win in the opening race at the Beaurepairs Tasmania Supersprint weekend just completed.
— Supercars (@supercars) April 17, 2021
Winning the opening race, van Gisbergen could not add to his 6 race wins although, not unsurprisingly, finished second in Race 2, and in sixth place in Race 3.
Such dominance in the opening races only matches the personality of the driver. Known for his ‘elbows out’ style of racing in tin-tops, he has lost none of his speed or desire in the new season. Just three meetings into the calendar year, his six straight wins [in a career V8 Supercars record of 46] saw the Kiwi racer equaling a winning record not seen since the halcyon days of Mark Scaife in 1994, and Alan Moffat in 1977.
If you include Bathurst 2020, then his sequence is seven race wins. Matching that of his teammate Jamie Whincup in 2008, yet still not as many as veteran driver Craig Lowndes (who won eight across three race meetings in 1996).
— Newshub Sport (@NewshubSport) March 21, 2021
6 wins to begin 2021 V8 Supercar season
The above image shows Shane van Gisbergen (Giz) holding aloft yet another trophy – something he became usually accustomed to in the races since last year.
Ten in total, if you include several other class wins from the end of 2020 Virgin Supercars season Bathurst 1000 win. That is one tremendous sequence. It included the ‘Battle of Jacks Ridge’ rally event, where the road and track driver defeated many of the best rally drivers across New Zealand.
— Sky Sport NZ (@skysportnz) November 15, 2020
As well, he raced in the New Zealand Grand Prix, and Won It in an open-top Toyota GP race car. He has also enjoyed a victory in the Australian GT races in the T8 AMG Mercedes. Asked what his secret was, van Gisbergen answered, “I just try and drive as fast as I can, and at the moment [I’m] not thinking about records or any of that stuff… just in the moment”.
They talk of purple patches of form, and multiple-time Bathurst winner Greg Murphy agrees that is where the Giz is at the moment. When asked what might be able to derail van Gisbergen’s run of form, Murphy joked: “Probably a broken leg, I reckon.
“He’s on a roll at the moment, but there are other guys that are working very, very hard”. The others are the chasing pack. Those drivers like Cameron Walters, Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert, and van Gisbergen’s Red Bull Holden Racing teammate, Jamie Whincup.
Just 139 points the difference at the top!
— Supercars (@supercars) April 20, 2021
Leading on the standings table, his armour may have been chinked with a second and a sixth-place but few will not respect such an accomplishment; considering the challenges from Whincup, Mostert, and Waters.
Accident proves how sportspeople are ‘risk tolerant’
How many race car drivers, motorcycle, or sprint car drivers have had accidents that jeopardize their career? The number would be untold, with accidents in championships like IndyCars, Nascars, and even open-wheel and two-wheel race car drivers injuring themselves off the track. But few will have bounced back so quickly.
Speaking to FoxSports in late March, van Gisbergen admitted “I got all the dressing off the scar last night, he checked it today, and it’s already fully healed. He can’t believe how quickly it’s all looked after itself, so it’s pretty cool.
“I go again to see him in four weeks and have the final check-up with him, then at the end of the year, hopefully, get the plate out. He [the specialist] was pretty stoked with how it went, that’s for sure.”
Maybe he wouldn’t have been stoked to hear of Giz enjoying such dangerous activities yet many fellow sportspeople today are ‘risk tolerant’. In Snow Boarding, Kiwi free-skier Nico Porteous broke a bone in his foot while skateboarding, and if as much an embarrassment, he quickly rebounded by winning the SuperPipe event. His reaction that “I went through a crazy high at the X-Games with the result there then two days later breaking my foot, I kind of went in a low period and was stuck at home for a month and couldn’t do anything.”
And in the same short time of recovery that Shane van Gisbergen seems to have had, Porteous recovered to instantaneous success, “My first day of training was my first day back in the pipe and my foot was feeling good, a little sore, but I’m just absolutely stoked”. It seems that the minor accidents can be taken in your stride, with a positive mindset.
Shane van Gisbergen is in a ‘winning mode’ across many categories, and with his confidence so high, it appears that even a bump to his physical condition has done nothing to limit the ability on the track to dominate in his class. Driving a Holden in the very last season when the chassis will be seen in a V8 Supercars guise, this Kiwi driver is not scared to be as ambitious off the track, as he is on it.
No question about the winner of our Performer of the Weekend award this time around, 3/3 at Sandown (one from 17th on the grid), 5/5 on the season, he leads the #RepcoSC championship & tops the GRID World Motorsport League, Shane Van Gisbergen pic.twitter.com/xHpICeQAcK
— World Motorsport League (@Grid_WML) March 23, 2021
Risk, or reduced risk, that tolerance and ambition will see success naturally fall the way of the Kiwi driver, as he assumes the empty championship leader’s place; since Scott McLaughlin traded his Ford Mustang for a full-time place with Penski IndyCar Racing.
All race car drivers take a risk and it is only their skill that keeps them firmly on track. With Shane van Gisbergen leading the Repco 2021 V8 Supercars championship, it will surprise few if the series leader wins again in the final year for the ZB Commodore. But you can count on it being more of a challenge for the rest of the season.
Next on the calendar is the OTR Supersprint round, at The Bend on May 8-10.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images