Shane van Gisbergen burst onto the V8 Supercars scene as a teenager in 2007. But while there was no doubting his natural talent, it took the New Zealander the best part of a decade to harness that speed to become the first Kiwi to win the Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars title since Jim Richards in 1991.
V8X Supercar Magazine looks at how van Gisbergen came of age to reach the top of Supercars in issue #96.
Issue #96 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #96.
Van Gisbergen's 2016 started with victory in Tekno Autosports' factory-supported McLaren 650S GT3s at the Bathurst 12 Hour, with van Gisbergen setting a lap record of 2:01.5670 for pole position.
It didn't take long for van Gisgergen to get up to speed at his new Triple Eight team in Supercars, winning in the second event out of the season at Symmons Plains and becoming a regular on the podium in the second half of the season.
Some thought van Gisbergen's wild and at times inconsistent results would take longer to iron out at Triple Eight. But when it mattered most he delivered with the sort of consistency needed to win a championship.
He and co-driver Alexandre Prémat were never off the podium in the endurance races, easily taking out the Pirtek Endurance Cup.
At Pukekohe Park Raceway, with the pressure of a championship on the line at his home event, van Gisbergen stared down Whincup in a head-to-head battle and prevailed, with the six-times champion cracking first.
Rather than the inexperienced van Gisbergen, it was actually Whincup who lost vital points in racing incidents at Bathurst and Pukekohe that eventually handed the newbie in the team the title.
Meanwhile, van Gisbergen's season also included success in the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup with race wins at Monza and Paul Ricard.
At 27 years of age, van Gisbergen has truly come of age. What we are seeing is the finished product of the natural talent that first appeared as a teenager a decade ago.
CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of issue #96 to read the full feature.