Yes, it feels like an eternity since we last started a Supercars race, but a smile has finally returned to our dial as we waved goodbye to our precious cargo, packed snug in our Iveco transporter heading across the border to Western Sydney.
Round three has it all: quick pit stops, short, sharp races and a 500th to top it all off. Does it get any better? Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen doesn’t think so…
“I’m super excited to get back to real racing. It’s been an interesting couple of months for me, but it’s been good to finally see the car over the last few days being at the workshop and I can’t wait to drive it again,” SVG said.
The #97 pilot was kept busy during the forced break, returning to the family farm in New Zealand and claiming the inaugural Supercars All Stars Eseries Championship, which he credits for keeping him active during the downtime.
“My preparation for Sydney has been quite normal; looking at data from previous years, keeping fit and doing what I can to be race ready. It’s going to be different considering the amount of people there, so we’ll need to adjust to only having 11 crew within the garage.
“The Supercars Eseries has also helped with my preparation. It’s allowed drivers to stay race fit, and it was pretty cool to take out the Championship. It was a lot of fun.”
The first race on Sunday at Sydney Motorsport Park will also be Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup’s 500th Supercars race start, a phenomenal achievement to say the least.
“It’s an awesome achievement for JDub to reach his 500th Supercars race,” SVG noted.
“It’s obviously a huge amount of racing, but I know he doesn’t care about the numbers. It’s hard to get your head around the fact he’s won well over 100 of those races [119 to be exact], which is a pretty good average to have in our sport. Considering he’s still at the top of his game is pretty impressive too.”
So how excited is the milestone man to return to racing?
“I’m like everyone in the industry – super excited to hit the track again this weekend. While the break has had its positives, seeing our high-performance race cars sitting still for so long just hasn’t felt right,” said JDub.
“Sydney was kind to us last time we were there under lights so we will take confidence from that, but we don’t know what other teams have been up to as far as development during the break. Like we are seeing in the footy, the grid could change up a little from when we stopped, but we are confident we can pick up where we left off at the AGP.”
The seven-time champion was humble in reflecting on his milestone and is excited for what the rest of the season holds for the team.
“There is plenty of ways to look at that number, but for me, to have had the opportunity to compete in the highest level of Australian motorsport and most of that with the best team in pit lane, I am very thankful. But as I always say, we’re only getting started.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship resumes with the Sydney SuperSprint on June 27-28. Three 32-lap races will take place with one on Saturday and two on Sunday.