Though he didn't - quite - get the long, hot, sunny summer break he was hoping for back home in New Zealand, SP Tools-backed Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon driver Shane van Gisbergen says he is refreshed and ready for this weekend's 2012 V8 Supercar season-opener round the streets of Adelaide


Since arriving back in Australia in late January the 22-year-old Kiwi flier has had two tests in the newly-liveried #9 SP Tools Ford Falcon, the first with the other V8 Supercar teams at Sandown in Melbourne on February 16, the second at Stone Brothers Racing's designated test track, the recently re-surfaced Queensland International Raceway on the 21st.

The teamhas also announced its enduro pairings for the 2012 season, putting experienced 34-year-old Victorian Luke Youlden (a familiar face to Kiwi fans thanks to his time in the NZV8s championship) with van Gisbergen in the #9 SP Tools Falcon, and van Gisbergen's compatriot, Craig Baird, with new team signing Lee Holdsworth in the #4 Irwin Tools car.

2011 was a big year for van Gisbergen and the Stone Brothers Racing team, their young charge claiming a breakthrough category win at home in Hamilton then doing it again only a couple of months later in Darwin.

This year van Gisbergen is keen to take the next step - to become a regular race winner and bona fide title prospect - and he told reporters after the test that in Holdsworth and Slade he will have teammates who will be pushing him all the way.

Shane van Gisbergen - # 9 SP Tools Ford Falcon

"I want someone to push me along and I feel that both Lee and Tim will do that in every session. I feel we'll be more consistent in qualifying as I'm now more confident in the car and in being regularly in the front bunch. We just need to keep on stepping up and improving."

Team Principal Ross Stone is also bullish about the year ahead, saying;

"We certainly feel that we have all the elements to again make a real impact on the championship."

Action on the 3.22km Clipsal 500 circuit at Adelaide starts tomorrow (Friday) with practice then a 20 minute qualifying session for the fist race and Top 10 Shootout in the afternoon.

Saturday begins with a warm-up in the morning then the first of two 78 lap/250km races in the afternoon with Sunday seeing a second 20 minute qualifying session in the morning and second 78-lap/250km race in the afternoon.


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