SP TOOLS Racing's Shane van Gisbergen produced a stunning performance to finish fifth in the first race of the Falken Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains Raceway on Saturday.

The 19-year-old again produced a display that belied his age, bursting through the pack in the wet conditions from 16th on the grid up to third after only four laps.

He stayed out as the weather worsened before pitting on lap 23. However he made a slight mistake on his first corner with cold tyres which pushed him back to 11th. Making up ground as the track improved, van Gisbergen again produced an eye-catching performance to finish fifth and challenge Will Davison for fourth.

With more changeable conditions forecast for tomorrow, he is confident that he can push on towards the podium for Stone Brother Racing.

"We made up quite a few spots at the start and got into third pretty quick when Tander went off," he reflected. "The car seems to suit those conditions and I seem to be able to go alright in them.

"The wet is good fun as well. You can throw the car around and get in to it, so I was enjoying myself out there. There's a lot more variables in it and I was able to try a few things.

"We were seeing it getting wetter and wetter and the guys with wets started to put times in close to us. Unfortunately I went off leaving the pits so that cost us a bit of time. I just under-steered there on cold tyres.

"When it was at its wettest we were holding position and when it started to dry I was able to make some gains. Fifth though is a great start for the weekend. Hopefully we can stay up there tomorrow now and finish off the weekend strong."

Team-mate James Courtney meanwhile was not so lucky as he was hit twice in the opening two laps and was forced out with steering damage.

However the car will be fixed and with more difficult conditions on the forecast, Courtney believes he can force his way through the field.

"We had a pretty good start. Going into that first corner everyone was going a bit crazy and I got hit in the front which put our steering out. The car was not at its best after that and I was just trying to stay out of trouble," he explained.

"Then Holdsworth spun and I went to go around them and I think he got hit again and flew across the track and into me and it was all over.

"We had worked well in qualifying so to finish the day like this is disappointing. But we can't go any further back tomorrow. I'm not happy about it but if the conditions are wet again tomorrow then may be we can come up through the field."



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