The V8 Supercars Championship headed for New Zealand’s revamped Pukekohe Park Raceway after a quick turnaround from Tasmania for another weekend of hard and fast sprint racing.
Four 35-lap sprint races brought some seriously competitive racing, lots of panel rubbing and plenty of action across the 27-car field.
Team TEKNO Darrell Lea’s Jonathon Webb and Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods’ Shane van Gisbergen had a tough time during each of the weekend’s four qualifying sessions, however radical set-up changes before the final two races of the weekend led to big increases in speed.
Shane is incredibly popular in his native New Zealand, and spent the weekend meeting fans, signing autographs and making media appearances. He even witnessed a marriage proposal – congrats to Jon and Keri!
Friday practice saw the boys make great progress through the day’s four sessions, producing quicker times across the day. Shane topped the time sheets in sessions two and three, although his fastest time of the day came in practice four, where he finished fifth.
Jonathon spent Friday chasing car set-up, never quite hitting the mark, despite showing promising speed all day. His best time also came in practice four, with the team working on the car overnight to set it up for Saturday qualifying.
Saturday brought two qualifying sessions, a top ten shootout and two races creating an action packed schedule. Qualifying for race six saw Shane end up in p7, and into the top-ten shootout, whilst Jonathon would start from p13.
Race seven’s qualifying was only ten minutes later, leaving little time for changes. Shane ended in p11 and Jonathon p17. In the top-ten shootout, Shane was able to advance to p5, starting race six from the third row.
The two afternoon races were punctuated with some high-profile crashes, and some major tyre degradation issues that led to blow-outs for Whincup and Winterbottom. Shane and Jonathon raced hard and fast, both moving through the field to finish race six in 4th (SVG) and 10th (JW), and race seven 6th (SVG) and 11th (JW).
Sunday’s morning qualifying sessions saw Shane qualified for race eight in 8th, and Jonathon in 17th. Race nine saw the guys starting from 13th and 17th.
The races were exciting ones for TEKNO, with the set-up changes unlocking speed that had been missing all weekend. Both Shane and Jonathon had fantastic runs in race eight, with bulk passes and great speed the story of the race. Shane’s brilliant drive led him to 2nd, and a great podium position – a present to his dad Robert, who had his birthday party at the circuit! Jonathon’s equally great drive saw him finish 8th.
The break between the two afternoon races saw changes in track temperature, altering grip levels for the final race of the weekend. Shane finished race nine in 11th and Jonathon in 18th, after both showed great speed early in the race.
On Sunday afternoon both drivers reflected on their weekends:
Jonathon – “We threw another big change at the car for the first race today, and I was very pleased with the result. I thought we’d finally found the trick for getting it going, as we gained nine spots. I went into the final race very confident, despite starting a fair way back, and we got past plenty of cars early on. The car felt really great straight from the start, but then we got bumped around a bit, and whether it was damaged or something, it was a struggle to keep it on the road for the rest of the race,” Jonathon said.
“Championship wise, it was a pretty good weekend. I’ve moved to 9th on the ladder, and we head to Perth next. We’ll look to have a strong one and gather some more points to keep climbing up the ladder. “
Shane – “I had to relearn the circuit, as it’s been six years since I’ve been here. They’ve done a great job with the upgrades, and it was money well spent I think. Qualifying was where I didn’t get the best run, but still pretty happy with the weekend, getting 2nd, 4th, 6th and 11th, and 4th overall. The track changed quite a lot for the last race, and we just missed it, but it’s still a good points scoring weekend, we keep scoring them and moving up, so I’m pretty happy with it,” Shane said.
Following the weekend’s racing at Pukekohe, Shane van Gisbergen sits 7th and Jonathon Webb 9th on the Championship points ladder. TEKNO is currently fifth in the Teams Championship.
The V8 Supercars Championship now heads to Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway for the weekend of May 3-5 and the Chill Perth 360.