Shane van Gisbergen has vowed to “keep the run going” after continuing his unbeaten charge to equal the most successful start to a Supercars season with another dominant display at Symmons Plains.
Stretching his winning streak to six races this year, the Triple Eight star torched his rivals to lead home a Red Bull one-two with Jamie Whincup and extend his championship lead to 153 points with another two races in this round to fight.
So comfortable was van Gisbergen’s win, he finished close to five seconds ahead of Whincup and almost 10 on their next rival, third-placed Dick Johnson Racing driver Anton de Pasquale.
Following his stunning comeback from a mountain biking accident to claim a clean sweep at Sandown last month with a surgically repaired collarbone and broken ribs, van Gisbergen joined elite company with his victory in the opening sprint race in Tasmania.
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The 2016 Supercars champion joined Allan Moffat (1977) and Mark Skaife (1994) as the only drivers to have won the opening six races of the Supercars season.
He can make history as the first driver to win the first seven races of the season if he can triumph in one of the two sprint races on Sunday.
Including his victory in the season-ending Bathurst 1000 last year, van Gisbergen has now claimed seven straight races and he can match former teammate Craig Lowndes’ 1996 record of eight consecutive wins with another victory this round.
After starting on pole, van Gisbergen’s Ford rival Cameron Waters got the jump off the line and led the race early before the New Zealand racer found a gap on the inside to pass last year’s championship runner-up on lap nine.
From there, van Gisbergen streaked away in the 44-lap race to continue the Red Bull team’s impressive record at the Tasmanian track.
“At the moment I’m not thinking about records or any of that stuff,” van Gisbergen said.
“I don’t think about that stuff, I just try and drive as fast as I can.
“I’m just in the moment. Our car’s good, team’s awesome … we are in a good place at the moment, I’ve just got to keep the run going.
“And if I don’t win, hopefully Jamie is up the front winning. It’s really cool to be a part of this team at the moment.
“We have obviously got some momentum on our side of the garage and seeing (car No.) 88 up there.”
Earlier, van Gisbergen set the scene for a Tassie attack with a lap record in a new split qualifying format, which he described as “overly complicated and silly”, to claim his fourth pole position of the year.
Smashing the qualifying lap record set by Lowndes in 2018 to again put his rivals on notice.
Van Gisbergen’s perfect start to his 2021 Supercars campaign has been more remarkable as he continues to recover from the serious injuries which required a metal plate and screws to be inserted into his fractured collarbone last month.
“I’m pretty sore,” van Gisbergen said. “I haven’t taken any painkillers this week and I can feel it, but I’m fine.”
Van Gisbergen leads the championship ahead of Whincup and Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert, who was fourth on Saturday.
Whincup lauded his teammate’s start to the season.
“SVG to win the first six – that’s pretty impressive,” the seven-time Supercars champion said.
“Considering just how close the cars are now, it’s never been as even as it has been.
“It just keeps getting closer and closer and more competitive, so to win the first six … is pretty impressive.”