Fri 07 Oct 2022

Repco Rally New Zealand gets van Gisbergen Bathurst ready

Two-time Supercars champion and current series leader Shane van Gisbergen believes Repco Rally New Zealand provided the perfect preparation ahead of his biggest race of the year.

The New Zealander was a welcome inclusion in the WRC2 field at his home round of the championship, evidently delighting himself as much as the fans on his way to an impressive third-in-class finish.

Grinning ear-to-ear throughout the weekend, the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver even declared at one stage-end interview that: “Whaanga Coast was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car.”

It did, however, come as something of a surprise in some quarters to see the 33-year-old turning out in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 just days before the Repco Bathurst 1000, which takes place this weekend.

The 1,000km, 61-lap endurance race around Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Australia, is widely regarded as the biggest date on the Australasian motorsport calendar. It's an important weekend for van Gisbergen as he targets a second Bathurst victory to consolidate his push towards a third Supercars title.

“There is a lot of preparation and effort [for Repco Rally New Zealand]. Of course, I am tired now, but it is a good relaxer for me ahead of next weekend. It helps me keep my brain alive and active,” van Gisbergen told WRC.com.

“We’ve had a ball, I have been learning a lot,” insisted the likeable Kiwi. “All the different conditions…new roads. I love rally, it is a good break from the intensity of the circuit racing, hopefully I can do more.”

Van Gisbergen revealed that being present in the downtown Auckland service park had been some years in the planning. Unsurprisingly, he also pointed to having a co-driver alongside him as one of the biggest adaptations for the weekend.

“Even in 2020, I thought about it, but it didn’t quite work then Covid happened anyway," he explained. "We did two or three events to build up then the big one so pretty stoked with how it all worked out.

“Having someone with you, they ride the wave with you. When you make mistakes they hear you say something, they see the crash coming, there is someone along for the whole rollercoaster.”

WRC2 - Repco Rally New Zealand 2022: Event Highlights

Riding the wave with van Gisbergen was Australian Glen Weston.

“[Glen] is a three-time Australian champion and came out of retirement for a bit of fun, so to have him help me and guide me has been a huge help. Hopefully he stays out of retirement and we can do a bit more next year,” van Gisbergen half-joked.

So, where will it be next year that we might see van Gisbergen?

“I don’t care, I just want to be in a car," he said. "It is pretty hard to get overseas. I love the New Zealand roads, it is just something I want to do for fun.”

And maybe a more regular programme in the future? “I should never say never, I am having fun doing what we are doing.”

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