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LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT: #97 SHAKEDOWN

Shane, meet Chastitii.

It was love at first sight as Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen and chassis 888A-054 locked eyes on each other for the first time. Queensland Raceway played host to the shakedown of Chastitii (aka #97), in what was a damp and slippery setting for the first running of the new car.

“We’re testing our new car today, giving it its first run and it feels really good and looks even better.

“The track is pretty slippery and wet but it’s a great little place to come for a shakedown before we go to Tailem Bend and Adelaide next week for the real deal,” SVG explained after his short 17-lap test.

After a season break crammed with local and international racing commitments including a podium at the Bathurst 12 Hour with teammate Jamie Whincup, it was comforting for SVG to get back to his Supercars roots.

“It feels awesome to be back in a V8. I’ve driven some pretty cool stuff over summer but it’s always great to get back in the supercar – having all that power get you down the back straight is pretty awesome!”

(Image: Supercars Championship / Matthew Paul photography) 

In what may have been a case of mistaken identity for some, David ‘DC’ Cauchi was at the helm as race engineer for #97’s shakedown, filling in for Grant ‘Shippy’ McPherson who was relegated to babysitting duties after welcoming the latest inclusion into the McPherson clan.

“We’re really happy with the new car shakedown, it went really well. No mechanical problems with the car so huge credit to the #97 boys on building another really nice car,” said Cauchi.

“Shane was really happy, and we got to go through a lot of system checks, practice starts and all those sorts of things so we’re confident now we can roll onto the first test and get on straight away with our test program.

“Everything felt really good and normal to be honest. There were no problems with vibrations or anything like that so overall he was really rapt with the car and can’t ask for anything more than that before the start of the season.”

Commenting on the absence of Shippy, Cauchi was excited about Shippy’s, err, two new inclusions…

“Shippy’s got two new children in his family; one’s a little human, and the other is his brand-new race car which I was lucky enough to get to run for the day in his absence. Congratulations to Shippy and Steph and I hope he enjoys his new car when he gets it!”

(Image: Supercars Championship / Matthew Paul photography) 

As the Supercars season fast approaches, Team Manager Mark ‘Dutto’ Dutton was satisfied with the day at QR, which also included further testing of Angelo Mouzouris’ Super2 challenger and handover of the #19 Team Sydney car.

“So far two boxes ticked out of three. Today we were shaking down our new car for Shane and that went faultlessly, so credit to all the team and the crew that put that together. Shane is pretty happy with it; he always likes getting a new car as you would, as everyone does.”

It’s all about timing in our sport, and it’s good to see our crew take this seriously in their personal life too…

“He’s (David Cauchi) done well. I mean, obviously we are a team, so we do help each other. We’re all extremely busy so in one regard you think the timing isn’t perfect, but the fact he’s (Grant McPherson) had his new-born when we’re not actually at a racetrack – job well done I say,” joked Dutto.

After some debriefing back at the workshop, the crew will fine-tune #97 before heading to the Supercars SuperTest at The Bend Motorsport Park on Tuesday.