Race ace gets to grips
SHANE Van Gisbergen might have dominated Reid Park last year, but the reigning Supercars champion expects an entirely different challenge for this weekend’s Townsville 400.
Van Gisbergen was third in each practice yesterday – notching a best time of 1: 12.4832 in the second session – and he is looming as one of the drivers to beat when the THEY’RE in the driver’s seat for a top eight finish but Cowboys ace Kyle Feldt conceded he had a few butterflies before taking a hot lap around Reid Park circuit yesterday.
Feldt, teammates Antonio Winterstein and Ethan Lowe, former Cowboy Glenn Hall and coach Paul Green got a taste of the fast lane in Toyota 86 Racing Series cars.
A passionate car enthusiast, the qualifying gets underway today.
The 28- year- old finished second and first across the two races last year, with Red Bull teammate Jamie Whincup also picking up a win, but Van Gisbergen said he was not putting much stock in past results.
“It’s completely different and I think it’s going to be about rear tyres here,” he said.
“The track gets worse and worse every year as the tarmac wears away and already on that race run we were all sliding, so it’s going to be some pretty fun racing.”
Van Gisbergen was forced to spin his Red Bull Holden bye for the Cowboys this week came at the ideal time for the team to experience the V8 Supercars circuit before the main event kicks into gear on the weekend.
“I’ve got a V8 at home, so it’s pretty good Toyota got us into these 86 cars, I’m pretty excited about it,” Feldt said.
“My old man follows it a fair bit. Normally on Sundays, if I’m home, I’ll drop in and watch a bit with him.
“It fitted in really well with the Commodore across the Reid Park track during practice as drivers battled to maintain grip in the warm conditions.
The New Zealander spent last weekend in New York for this third start in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and he joked he was still getting a feel for the Supercars again.
“I’ve been in a lazy GT3 all weekend, my traction control failed,” Van Gisbergen said laughing.
“I just spun it to keep it off the wall. I jumped around the left too high and I was going to go straight into the fence, so I bye, for us. It’s great to get out behind the scenes and have a look at the cars.”
Despite a raft of injuries to key players, the Cowboys sit sixth with a 10- 6 record and have defied the critics who felt they could not win without co- captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.
Feldt said the younger but experienced players like himself and Lowe have made a point of helping to fill the leadership void. just flicked it right and stood on the gas so I wouldn’t crash the thing.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good way of getting adapted to the Supercar again and it doesn’t take me too long. We just did a couple of longer runs in the first session and that helps me to get up to speed pretty quick.
“There’s obviously a big driving style difference between the two cars, but I felt like I was right on the pace straight away and driving properly so it didn’t take too long.”
Van Gisbergen described
“We’re sitting in the top eight pretty comfortably which we’re pretty happy about,” Feldt said.
“We’ve shown we can play some good footy without Johnno and Matt Scott as well.
“Morgo ( Michael Morgan) has really taken on a lot of ownership and some younger boys like myself and Lowey decided to take it upon ourselves to really show we’re experienced enough to be leaders when the older boys aren’t around.” his car as “horrible to drive” in the last round in Darwin despite salvaging a podium finish in the Sunday race, but he was confident he’ll have no such issues in Townsville.
“After Darwin, we had a pretty big go through what we thought was wrong and we fixed it straight away,” he said.
“The car was much better than the problems I had there. We worked through our program and I think we made some good gains.
“In the race runs, we were a little bit off, but I still feel pretty good. The car’s quite nice and I enjoyed it.”
FAST LANE: Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt before his hot lap in a Toyota 86 Racing Series car.