SVG dons #888 at Bathurst

As Jamie Whincup looks to pull on the helmet for the final time as a full time driver and move to a management position within the Triple Eight racing team, Giltrap Group sponsored Shane van Gisbergen is bestowed the opportunity to race Bathurst with the iconic #888 number.

SVG will also be racing the only car in the field to have won a previous Bathurst 1000.

Since their Australian Supercar debut in 2003, the Triple Eight Racing team have won eight Bathurst 1000 titles and have been integral in the legendary careers of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes. Now as Whincup prepares for his final race as a full time driver, the Triple Eight torch has been passed onto Kiwi, Shane van Gisbergen who will don the iconic #888 for his Bathurst campaign this year. 

Whether you’re a fan of Jaime Whincup, Retiring Team Owner, Roland Dane or Triple Eight Racing, or not, and let’s be honest, all have had their fair share of detractors over the years. Given the number has become synonymous with both Lowndes and Whincup and that it’s Jaime’s final Bathurst 1000 as a main driver, SVG’s opportunity to drive with #888 this Bathurst cannot be overstated as a huge indication of Triple Eight’s commitment to the young kiwi.

Van Gisbergen traditionally races with #97 and as the recently-crowned Championship winner also had won the right to race with the #1 on the side of car. But the team extending SVG the chance to have #888 for the great race is indeed a special opportunity and says a lot about how far Shane has come in Triple Eight, and the Supercar series in general.

The number on the side of the car of course has no bearing on performance, but it’s a strong message for fans and rivals that SVG has a home at Triple Eight and, should he choose to stay it out, it would be easy to envisage a similar long term success trajectory as his predecessors.

But what are his changes for a win this weekend? Well, Bathurst is renowned for taking scalps, but  fair to say Shane is the odds on favourite to clinch his second Bathurst.

Having won the previous year in the same car, the only previous Bathurst winning car on track this weekend, poses a big advantage. Triple Eight can start their campaign with a known winning set up for that chassis and hopefully make just minor adjustments from there.

Two big variables that may complicate things this year, the co-drivers and the weather. With no Endurance series able to run this year due to a COVID-impacted calendar, the Bathurst co-drivers will not have the same seat time leading into Bathurst. A critical factor given the unforgiving nature of the circuit and the difficulty of driving these 650HP, 1400kg beasts.

Also at the time of writing, Bathurst has experienced one of the most torrential downpours of rain in years, track maintenance are feverishly trying to evacuate standing water from the road circuit. And that rain is looking like it may persist for the week.

Each of those factors play into Shane van Gisbergen’s hands. His co-driver will be the four-time Bathurst Winner and Supercars stalwart, Garth Tander who helped SVG secure his first win last year. A very safe and capable pair of hands in relation to many other co drivers.

And van Gisbergen typically shines in the wet, falling back on his experience in drifting and rallying to deliver unearthly car control, a wet race could easily prove advantageous to Shane.

While the talent has been on show years, Shane is no longer the journeyman at Triple Eight Racing and the new era for the team and indeed, SVG’s chances for another Bathurst victory are exciting. The apprentice has well and truly become the #888 master.

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