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Motorsport news | Shane van Gisbergen wows crowd in Western Springs Speedway sprint car debut

Shane van Gisbergen says he’s got a long way to go before he fully understands the complexities of sprint car racing.

After his long-awaited debut at Tauranga’s Baypark Speedway was cancelled due to inclement weather, he finally got on track at Western Springs Speedway in a delayed Boxing Day fixture.

Pushed back a day due to thunderstorms, the three-time Supercars champion took to the Auckland quarter-mile for the first time on Tuesday evening.

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A bumper crowd flocked to see van Gisbergen drive the V8-powered sprint car where he captured the imagination of the 10,000-plus fans trackside.

“It’s cool to get back out there,” van Gisbergen told Wide World of Sports.

“I had a go in the midget a few years ago and got pulled short. It’s good to have a proper go.”

It wasn’t an entirely trouble-free night for the Kiwi, who missed the first heat after he couldn’t get his car started.

He opted to start off the back for the second heat of the night and ran inside the top 10 before an attempted pass turned into a 360-degree spin, much to the delight of the crowd.

“We had a few car problems, that was the main bit,” van Gisbergen explained, who described the spin as “a bit of a blur.”

“I was meant to be fifth,” he added. “But we went off the back just to be safe and make sure the car ran right. It was fine and got into it.”

The two-time Bathurst 1000 winner received a rousing reception on his way to 11th in his first race.

The third heat of the night saw van Gisbergen claim a best finish of fifth before the following feature race went caution-free.

Michael Pickens dominated the 25-lapper to beat Dean Cooper by three seconds while Daniel Thomas was third.

Meanwhile, van Gisbergen kept out of trouble and rose one spot from 15th on the grid to claim 14th, just one lap down in the 20-car field.

All told, it was a solid start to his summer of speedway, although van Gisbergen conceded he’s got a lot to learn after being lapped by the multiple New Zealand champion Pickens.

Asked of the greatest challenge he faced, van Gisbergen replied, “Everything is different.

“It’s pretty awesome. You come in and they change so many things on the car. I don’t know what stuff does yet or what to ask for. It’s pretty cool.

“He (Pickens) lapped me pretty easy. I’ve got a long way to go to get there. I’m just understanding it.

“I’m just here to have a go. Hopefully get better but no expectations of what we’re doing.”

Van Gisbergen will continue his speedway endeavours at Baypark Speedway on Wednesday with the Bay International Superstars.

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