Evans struggles, while van Gisbergen closes championship gap at Townsville
It was another interesting weekend of motorsport for New Zealand's international racing contingent — with our stars competing in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, the GP2 Series, and the Australian GT Championship. It was particularly interesting in the context of the Supercars and GP2 title standings, where one Kiwi's championship chances improved, while another's went backwards ...
van Gisbergen wins on the streets of Townsville
Closing their gap to their respective championship leader was Shane van Gisbergen, leaping from fifth in the Supercars points standings to second after a complete weekend at the Castrol Edge Townsville 400. Race one saw him get well and truly bested by teammate and series leader Jamie Whincup, but it was the Kiwi who was unstoppable in race two — while the best Whincup could achieve was a fourth.
Beyond van Gisbergen, it was a weekend to forget for the likes of Fabian Coulthard and Scott McLaughlin. The best result between them was McLaughlin's fifth place in race two, though it wasn't enough to prevent him from sliding even further out of championship contention.
Mitch Evans takes a step forward then a step back
Photo / Sam Bloxham, GP2 Series Media
Fourth and the quickest lap of the race were the highlights of Mitch Evans' opening GP2 Series race at Silverstone, as the category supported the British Grand Prix.
But, after failing to score any points in race two, Evans slipped from second place in the championship points to fifth place — behind new series leader Oliver Rowland, then the trio of Antonio Giovinazzi, Pierre Gasly, and Rafaelle Marciello.
Despite being one of only two drivers in the top 10 in points to not win a race so far this season, Rowland's championship lead is something of a surprise. However, with a pair of podium placings to his name over the weekend, it was no surprise that he was a competitive fighter.
Trying Townsville weekend for Craig Baird
Photo / Australian GT
The handicapping system that sees each team in pit lane take on a unique pit-lane time based on their speed and talent level is an interesting element to the Australian GT Championship that often spawns a variety of different race winners in a season.
It's also a system that works against the likes of Porsche ace Craig Baird and his Mercedes-Bent AMG GT3 that he shares with Scott Taylor. Rated highly, the sight freuqently seen is Baird sithing through the racing field in order to either build up an insurmountable margin or to try and make up time spent in the pits. Either way, the system didn't seem to help Baird this weekend.
Race one saw Baird engage in a dice with German GT specialist Christopher Mies for the lead, only or the New Zealander to tumble down the order as Taylor looked to struggle. A much healthier-performing Taylor handed Baird the team's STM AMG GT3 in a much better place in race two, prompting Baird to ease through the field with incredible efficiency on his way to a well deserved Sunday podium.