Van Gisbergen: No mind games to passing
The Kiwi was in sparkling form across the Tasmania SuperSprint as he recorded a clean sweep and took firm control of the series lead.
However none of his three wins were lights-to-flag, or won purely on strategy, van Gisbergen executing multiple on-track passes on each occasion.
Most of those passes were executed at Turn 6, but set up at the hairpin by getting into the side of his opponents on a shallow line.
That would set up a side draft along the back sweeper and give van Gisbergen track position into Turn 6.
The aggressive move drew the ire of Cam Waters during Saturday’s race, who flipped the bird at van Gisbergen as they drag-raced through the sweeper.
Dick Johnson Racing’s Will Davison also lost the lead to a similar move pulled by van Gisbergen on Sunday afternoon.
Not for the first time, van Gisbergen’s uncompromising passing style was linked to a mental advantage that he is said to have over his rivals, particularly in the post-Scott McLaughlin era.
But van Gisbergen strongly refuted that claim on Sunday evening, claiming his passing was simply racecraft and nothing more.
“I don’t think it’s mind games, I just think it’s hard racing and racecraft,” he said.
“[The DJR] guys are really good to race against. There are some smokies who keep appearing up on the grid, and you just have to be mindful and learn them, but nowadays, everyone up the front is really good [with] racing.
“The stuff [Saturday’s race], if people tried to give it back [on Sunday], you expect it.
“It’s the way [the hairpin] is; you miss the apex and leave two car widths, but that’s the race line. And you all choose to leave the hole, and I chose to fill it today.
“Then straight away in [the next] race, everyone’s taking the inside and changed their lines.
“So, I think it’s just hard racing. I don’t think it’s mind games.
“We’re all just going hard and you see everyone learning every race and trying different stuff.
“You know, that pass on Will, he tried to block but I don’t know I just… gave him no option, really.
“But to me, it’s racing.”
There was at least one instance of mind games on the weekend from van Gisbergen, who uncharacteristically admitted post-Race 3 that he had been purposely complaining about rear grip on the radio to goad DJR into trying an undercut strategy.
“I was screaming over the radio pretending I had no rear and made them pit early and then I just went,” he told Fox Sports after the race. “Sucked in.”
However he had backtracked on that by the time he got to the post-race press conference, admitting he ‘regretted’ giving that away.