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Wed 15 Jun 2022

Van Gisbergen signs up for New Zealand debut

Double Supercars race champion Shane Van Gisbergen will make his FIA World Rally Championship debut on home ground at September’s Repco Rally New Zealand.

The 33-year-old Kiwi currently tops the standings in the Australasian touring car series in pursuit of a third title. He has driven only two rallies in a long motorsport career, but has fond memories of Rally New Zealand when growing up in Auckland.

“I’ve been around it a long time and going to all the rallies when I was young watching Rally New Zealand. It has always been a dream to do it but I’ve never really had the chance,” he explained.

“My favourite memories were as a young kid. Before the Manukau Super Stage was built, they had it up the road at Totara Park which was not far from where I grew up.

“It was in the early 90s and it was at night. I remember being on dad’s shoulders watching the cars go through there.”

Van Gisbergen will be co-driven by former Australian champion Glen Weston and is expected to drive a Race Torque-run Škoda Fabia R5. They finished second in the opening round of this year’s Australian Rally Championship, the National Capital Rally, in Canberra.

The duo are eyeing a warm-up for the 11th round of the WRC on 29 September - 2 October at Rally Hawke’s Bay on 23 July.

“I need to get used to pace notes, how to read the New Zealand roads and just get better. Pace notes are where most of the speed is for me,” Van Gisbergen explained.

“I do not have any expectations for results. For me just competing in the event is going to be epic, to see the stages packed with fans, and having the service park on the Auckland waterfront, it is just going to be an awesome event.

“I am looking forward to be part of it. I just want to do a good job and keep it straight, be there at the end and be part of this incredible event.”

Van Gisbergen’s motorsport CV is varied. He won last year’s Battle of Jack’s Ridge rallysprint and finished fifth in class at his first attempt at last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours race.

His father, Robert, competed in the 1996 Rally New Zealand in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1 but retired. The rally was a round of the Asia-Pacific Championship and contested by the likes of Tommi Mäkinen, Richard Burns, Kenneth Eriksson and Piero Liatti.

The purpose-built Jack’s Ridge venue, 30 minutes from the rally base in central Auckland, will host several special stages on the final day of the event, which returns to the WRC for the first time since 2012. The action culminates with the Wolf Power Stage finale.

“The stage will feature a number of exhilarating jumps, technical corners and a huge variety of different spectator areas,” said rally CEO Michael Goldstein.

Tickets for the rally are now available and more information is available here.

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