There is no ‘silver bullet’ that will relaunch Shane van Gisbergen V8 Supercars championship, nor will Tekno Autosports change the way it goes about its racing despite the star driver’s recent drop down the points ladder.
That’s the message from General Manager Steve Hallam as TEKNO prepares to head for Sydney Motorsports Park, the venue where van Gisbergen’s charge to second in the 2014 drivers’ championship took off.
Last year the Kiwi ace won both Saturday 100km races in the rain and then backed up with seventh in Sunday’s 200km outing to emerge from the event as the top point scorer and fourth in the championship.
This year the Darrell Lea STIX Holden Commodore VF driver enters the August 21-23 Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint ninth in the championship, 579 points behind leader Mark Winterbottom.
A variety of issues in the last two events at Townsville and Ipswich has increased the gap to Winterbottom by 350 points.
“You can’t hide from the position that we sit in the championship,” Hallam told v8supercars.com.au. “But that doesn’t change what we are going to do. We always work as hard as we can, we are always looking to try and improve.
“I know Shane knows that and I know what our organisation is like as we try and correct that.
“Sometimes life in the soundbites we see on television does not portray the level of complexity that surrounds what we do for a business.”
Issues have included:
– a driveline vibration in Townsville during Friday practice
– a tyre rule infraction that sent the #97 to the back of the grid for the first 200km race in Townsville
– a mechanical problem caused by contact with another car that was a big factors in van Gisbergen’s drop from sixth to 20th in the second Townsville race
– the gearbox casing cracked on the start line of the second 60km race at Ipswich
– a set-up that simply didn’t work in qualifying or the race in Ipswich on Sunday that resulted in van Gisbergen starting 23rd and finishing 21st.
“Any sporting endeavour – and motorsport is no different – is like having your annual appraisal every couple of weeks,” said Hallam. “You’re only as good as your last result and our last result wasn’t particularly good. The spotlight comes to rest on us because certainly on Sunday in Ipswich we significantly under-performed.”
But there have also been recent bursts of speed including qualifying third on Sunday in Townville and finishing fourth in the opening race at Ipswich.
But overall this year van Gisbergen’s record of no pole positions, two podiums and no wins is a dip compared to his one pole and six podiums in the equivalent period in 2014 – discounting Pukekohe which is held later in 2015.
Asked if van Gisbergen’s decline could be the result of a particular issue, Hallam said:
“There is never any one thing. As soon as you start subscribing to the single issue you will lose sight of what you are trying to do.
“It’s like the mythical silver bullet that people talk about. Life is not that simple and yes it would be easy to write about if it was that simple and be nice to package up.
“Life is analogue as opposed to digital, it doesn’t always happen as you want it and there are many, many factors that affect what goes on on the track.”
Hallam, a highly credentialed engineer who spent many years in Formula One at McLaren, is renowned in the V8 Supercars pitlane for his attention to process and detail as cornerstones of motorsport success.
He argues that the issues the team has encountered more than anything reflects the constant challenges thrown up by motorsport.
“It’s not the first time that this will have happened to me or anyone in motorsport so it is par for the course,” he said. “I think to a degree it’s been over-dramatised in some circles, yourself included.
“The ebb and flow of motorsport means you can’t be always as consistent as you like.
“There are 24 other competitors out there doing their best to stop you being so.
“As with any sporting endeavour these things do happen.”
Hallam downplayed what significance could be drawn from last year’s results at SMP because of the weather conditions. He felt the relevance of van Gisbergen’s strong form in this year’s pre-season Super Test at the venue was also debatable.
“We were second overall behind (Chaz) Mostert in that shoot-out and we were pretty comfortable with the car then,” Hallam said. “Everyone has moved their car on in the six or seven months since then.
“We have a good baseline relative to that particular event, but how that will shape up when everyone goes back there and applies everything they have learned during the course of the year so far, I don’t know.
“We are going to start to find out on the Friday … and we will find out on the Saturday when we go out in qualifying and the two races.”