28 Feb 2010

Great start to the V8 season for van Gisbergen

2:14 pm on 28 February 2010

The way the youngest driver in V8 Supercars field, New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, has started the Australian V8 Supercar season suggests a star is being developed at the Stone Brothers Racing team.

The 20-year-old capped a great opening two rounds in the Middle East with his second podium finish is as many weekends at Bahrain.

That third-place finish behind reigning champ Jamie Whincup and Ford star Mark Winterbottom catapulted van Gisbergen into third place on the championship ladder ahead of TeamVodafone veteran Craig Lowndes.

The two-week Middle East trip has been particularly rewarding for the third-year driver, whose previous best finish was a fifth place in last year's second Phillip Island event.

And after finishing no lower than sixth in any of the four races held at Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, van Gisbergen is hopeful this is just the beginning of a breakthrough year for him.

He says they've been working hard and knew they were going to be strong but probably not this strong.

He does concede Whincup and Winterbottom are probably another step ahead again.

Aside from the first two trips to the podium in his V8 Supercars career, van Gisbergen also started Friday's race in Bahrain from the front row of a grid for the first time after qualifying second behind Whincup.

With all those milestones knocked off in two weeks, one clear goal still remains for the New Zealander however - a maiden race win in the category.