Supercars defence not over: van Gisbergen

Try telling Holden's Shane van Gisbergen that his Supercars title defence is over.

The flying Kiwi may have been down in the dumps over his last round Sandown 500 debacle but van Gisbergen is suddenly full of confidence again after returning to Mount Panorama for Sunday's Bathurst 1000.

The defending champion told reporters at Sandown barely a fortnight ago he believed his title defence was in tatters in the wake of a horror enduro.

No wonder.

The Holden ace saw the deficit behind series leader Scott McLaughlin of Ford blow out from 258 to 414 points after finishing 16th in Victoria.

Van Gisbergen was plagued by tyre failure, a clash with Ford's Fabian Coulthard in practice with subsequent grid penalty plus a qualifying spin for co-driver Matt Campbell after contact from Taz Douglas.

Yet van Gisbergen has arrived at Mount Panorama a changed man.

"I wouldn't say the championship is over," he told AAP.

"It hasn't been a disappointing season for me, there's just been a bit of disappointment at a few races this year.

"But I am not thinking about the championship - there's still a few rounds left yet."

Despite his optimism, van Gisbergen's luck did not look like changing at Thursday practice on the mountain.

His Red Bull Racing team looked set for a long night ahead of Friday's qualifying after his Holden suffered a high-speed crash.

Van Gisbergen hit the wall at the Dipper on top of the mountain halfway through the final one-hour session, prompting a red flag.

However, Red Bull reported that van Gisbergen had avoided major damage and expected the Holden gun to fire at Friday's practice.

How lucky was van Gisbergen?

An almost identical crash by Holden's Tim Slade in opening practice resulted in a 24-hour rebuild, ensuring he will be racing the clock to take the qualifying field.

"It's much better than it could have been," RBR engineer Grant McPherson told Supercars.com.

"He was down to about 80km/h by the time he hit, so he'd wiped off heaps of speed which was good.

"As you saw, the thing still launched pretty high in the air, so it was still a big hit.

"You never know what's going to happen."

Van Gisbergen still has some catching up to do.

Holden cult hero David Reynolds clocked Thursday's fastest overall practice time in the third and last session - two minutes, 05.09 seconds.

It was just 0.19 outside Holden star Jamie Whincup's 2015 practice lap record (2:04.90) at Mount Panorama.