Gisbergen and Stanaway are looking to make Sandown 500 history

Written by Thomas Miles

If Shane van Gisbergen wants to score his first Sandown 500 win alongside Richie Stanway, he must challenge history.

The No. 97 Triple Eight Chevrolet Camaro will start 19th in the 2023 Sandown 500 this afternoon.

The weight of history stands against the champion lowest on the grid to win the Sandown 500, a 15th-place finish when Dick Johnson and John Bowe claimed glory in the No. 17 Ford EP Falcon in 1994.

Although the odds are not in Van Gisbergen’s favour, he can turn to past Sandown performances for inspiration.

Two years ago, in 2021, he flew from 17th to first in just 36 laps despite being in severe pain from a broken collarbone.

Shane van Gisbergen takes the checkered flag to record a thrilling sweep of Sandown in 2021. Photography by Mark Horsburgh/LAT Images

Even in the last Sandown 500 in 2019, the No. 97 car started from 24th, but got into the lead late in the race only to receive a puncture with 11 laps to go.

Van Gisbergen has also won five of the last six races at Sandown, while his co-driver knows how to get the job done on Melbourne’s famous 3.1km circuit.

Stanaway teamed up with Cameron Waters to dominate the 2017 Sandown 500 Classic from pole position.

In 2023, the Kiwis will chart a course to make more history after the qualifiers did not go to plan.

Van Gisbergen

Shane van Gisbergen was arrested on the difficult Dandenong Road section of Sandown. Photo: Mark Horsburgh

The Triple Eight team kept the two Red Bull Camaros on the track during the opening stage of qualifying to save a set of tires, adding pressure for the final rounds.

But incredibly, Van Gisbergen made some rare errors when jumping on the curb at Turns 6-9 as well as finding the grass at Dandenong Road later.

Looking at the race, Van Gisbergen said the Key will be out of trouble during the 161-lap outing, and believes Stanway’s “impressive” pace could make a big difference.

“It was not the best Saturday for us, unfortunately,” the defending champion said about the qualifiers.

“I feel sorry for everyone in my team for qualifying so poorly, but I hope we can make some improvements to the race.

“Richie was amazing, his lap times were very impressive – he’s really fast so it’s a shame we didn’t start getting further up the grid.

“Our focus is on having a clean race, and the rest will take care of itself.”

The 2023 Sandown 500 starts at 14.15 AEST.

Main image by Peter Norton

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