STAPYLTON, Queensland, Australia — Team Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike — Robert Cianflone/ Getty Images AsiaPac photo –
Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s previews for the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship! Our penultimate team is one of the surprise success stories of the 2014 season (who coincidentally finished second in the drivers’ championship), Tekno Autosports.
DRIVER: No. 97 — Shane van Gisbergen, STIX Candy Holden Commodore VF
2014 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 9th (2014 Driver Points Finish: 2nd)
2014 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: Shane’s sweep of the Saturday races at Sydney Motorsport Park
Much could be said about Tekno Autosports, but the best way to summarize how successful their 2014 season was is as follows: they ran one car and beat out seven teams (some of which were running two cars) in the team points standings.
Tekno Autosports came into 2014 building off of a solid 2013 season. However, there was a major change in the last offseason — team owner Jonathon Webb decided to shut down his car to focus solely on making Shane van Gisbergen’s team was as strong as possible. That decision might have been the smartest move anyone in the series made coming into 2014, because Shane van Gisbergen’s season last year was staggering.
The statistics are incredibly impressive, especially for a one-car team: five victories, 13 podiums, 20 top-five finishes, and 27 top-10 finishes. For his efforts, van Gisbergen secured a career-best second place finish in the points standings — beating out the likes of Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom, Garth Tander, and James Courtney in the process.
In fairness, there was one moment that was bitterly disappointing for Tekno in 2014 — the finish to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. Shane had positioned himself to win the event for the first time in his career and led the field down to pit road on the final round of pit stops. However, his car stalled as he attempted to exit the pits, and failed to refire — the starter motor on his car had failed, and van Gisbergen was forced to retire from the race lead with under 20 laps to go.
To come so close to victory on Australian motorsport’s biggest stage and fall short so close to the end was a gut-wrenching blow to the team — van Gisbergen was seen dejected afterwards, holding head in hands as the sunlight faded on the Mountain.
There are no major changes to Tekno Autosports for 2015, save for the livery on van Gisbergen’s Holden Commodore — V.I.P. Petfoods and its trademark yellow makes way for the marigold color of STIX Candy. Other than that, it is business as usual for van Gisbergen, Webb, and company.
To make the jump to compete with Red Bull, there are some performances that need to be improved — van Gisbergen had miserable weekends at Winton, Barbagallo, and Phillip Island, where he finished outside of the top 10 in seven out of nine races. It is those finishes that explain the majority of the 583-point gap to Jamie Whincup in the points standings. Otherwise, the pace to compete with Whincup is there.
In the end, this might be a tell-tale season for Tekno — if they can improve on 2014, then van Gisbergen will be fighting directly with the Red Bulls for the 2015 championship. However, if they only equal their performances from last season, then it may indicate that this smaller-than-average outfit might be stretched to their maximum level of performance on the track, and they might need an off-track resource boost to improve their chances against Whincup and company.
Regardless, this is one of the most likable teams on the V8 Supercars grid, and van Gisbergen is without question the best “wheelman” in the series — he possesses an innate ability to drive his car right on the ragged edge in a manner that is enthralling and captivating on a level that no one else in the series can equal. Combine those two factors, and Tekno Autosports will be one of the most entertaining teams on the grid to watch in 2015.
For more information on Tekno Autosports, visit http://tekno.com.au/.
For more information on V8 Supercars, visit http://v8supercars.com.au/.