Van Gisbergen runner-up in team trifecta at Western Australia

| Photographer Credit: Mark Horsburgh

Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen was the meat in a Triple Eight Racing sandwich in finishing second in the first of two V8 Supercars Championship races in Perth.

It proved a bizarre day of weather that produced an equally bizarre race, with Craig Lowndes powering through the field on fresh tyres from near last to win ahead of van Gisbergen and teammate Jamie Whincup.

Today was punctuated with bursts of heavy rain in between fine periods that produced a once-sided qualifying when only half the field completed a lap on slick tyres in the rain before a red flag stopped the session. With the teams reverting to wet tyres, the rest of the field had no chance to achieve a time to match those on the first-lap slicks.

However van Gisbergen was one to prosper, starting fourth on the grid. The Holden driver showed absolute class in the slippery conditions to work his way to the lead but this evaporated like the rain after his team waited one lap too many to dash in for slick tyres in the improving conditions.

The fresh surface became every more abrasive than usual, with van Gisbergen withstanding a bevy of challengers that grouped behind the leader in the 50 lap race.

That was until Lowndes’ engineer rolled the dice to bring him in for a new set of tyres, and the master drove superbly to force his way through the field, finally over-taking teammates Whincup and van Gisbergen two laps from the finish.

The rain started to fall again, with Whincup almost collecting the New Zealander in the rapidly wet surface, but they managed to complete an outstanding team trifecta and the 16th victory for Lowndes at Western Australia.

“That was cool. Well done to the team. One-two-three is pretty awesome so I am pretty stoked,” van Gibergen.

It also marked a strong day for the New Zealand drivers, none more so that the Super Black Racing team, with Chris Pither driving a splendidly controlled race for eighth, the first top-10 finish for the Kiwi team.

Scott McLaughlin was 11th with Fabian Coulthard 17th, after he given a drive- through penalty for an unsafe release, and Andre Heimgartner 21st.

The result sees McLaughlin slip one spot on the championship ladder to third behind Whincup and Lowndes, with van Gisbergen up to fourth, Coulthard 16th, Pither 24th and Heimgartner 25th.

The second race is Sunday.

ITM Auckland SuperSprint 4-6 November: Tickets are on sale from as little as $19. Three-day trackside is priced from $90 with children aged 12 and under free trackside admission with a paying adult. Fanstands are from just $110 for three days and Platinum Reserved Grandstands with Paddock Pass priced at $300

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