Race ace gets to grips

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH TRENT SLATTER trent. slatter@ news. com. au

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.”

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

FAST LANE: Cow­boys winger Kyle Feldt be­fore his hot lap in a Toy­ota 86 Rac­ing Se­ries car.

Shane Van Gis­ber­gen.

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