The increasing ability of Shane van Gisbergen to deal with the highs and lows of racing and the cohesion of the small Tekno Autosports team that supports him are key reasons the combination has raced to the fore in the 2014 V8 Supercars Championship.
That’s the view of team manager Steve Hallam, the veteran English former Formula One engineer who joined the single car Tekno operation from Walkinshaw Racing at the start of the season.
Van Gisbergen has not dropped below sixth in the Drivers’ Championship this year and currently lies third, with a distinct opportunity to track down and pass Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom for second during the last two events – the November 14-16 Plus Fitness Phillip Island 400 and the December 5-7 Sydney NRMA 500.
The hard-charging 25-year old Kiwi was sixth on the points table as recently as Race 25, but has vaulted to third on the back of three wins in the last seven races in his VIP Pet Foods Holden Commodore VF.
That’s more than anyone else in the same period, including runaway championship leader Jamie Whincup who has won two races (of the last seven) in his Red Bull Racing Commodore.
Of course, it could well have been four wins for van Gisbergen, as he and co-driver (and team owner) Jonathon Webb were just 11 laps from a memorable Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 win when the starter motor failed at the last pit stop.
But van Gisbergen was able to bounce back from that to qualify on ARMOR ALL Pole Position and win the opening race of the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 with Webb just two weeks later, defeating Whincup in a head-to-head duel.
Hallam, who has worked with such greats as the late Ayrton Senna said van Gisbergen’s ability to enjoy success and cope with failure and then move on to the next challenge had become a strong part of his driving armoury.
“Shane has evolved with the team over the year,” Hallam told v8supercars.com.au. ”We have learned together – him and the team – how to deal with things when they are not going well and how to enjoy it when it is going well.
“But we always have our feet on the ground, knowing we will celebrate the success on the day, but knowing we have another job to do.
“And it was great for everybody to win the Saturday race (on the Gold Coast). But these race meetings where we have multiple races you have to put that behind you and concentrate on the day and one of the great things about Shane is in his head he does that.”
Hallam also praised the small crew at Tekno for being similarly focussed and dedicated, citing that as a key reason the team was enjoying so much success.
“Everybody on this team has worked diligently, they have analysed where we have been weak and tried to strengthen it and that goes with our garage performance, with our race performance, with our set-up performance, with our drivers. It’s really been a cumulative thing over the year.
“I would say the beauty of this team is every one wants to be here and wants to do well and wants to be a part of this group doing well. There isn’t one chink in the armour of Tekno Autosports.
“It is a very tight group, we all get on every well together, everyone knows their jobs, everybody does their jobs.”
Hallam resisted making comparisons between van Gisbergen and drivers he has worked with in the past, but made it clear he enjoyed the relationship and hoped it continued for some time.
“Let me put it this way, when I am sitting in my rocking chair I will be proud to say I worked with Shane van Gisbergen.
“We (Tekno) may be one chapter, but I’d like to think we will be several chapters in his book of his life.”
Van Gisbergen joined Tekno last year after a controversial split with Stone Brothers Racing in 2012, just before it was taken over by Betty Klimenko and became Erebus Motorsport V8. Legal proceedings related to his move were recently settled out of court.