Is van Gisbergen a freak?

| Photographer Credit: Ross Hyde Photography

Are there any four wheeled racing cars that Shane van Gisbergen cannot drive well?  After competing in the Kennedy Park Resort Rally Hawke’s Bay over the weekend, he continues to confirm that he is seriously quick in any car that he chooses to get into.

The current Repco Supercars Champion, who also leads the 2022 series, has his heart set on competing in the Repco Rally New Zealand at the end of September.  Part of his lead up to the WRC rally, he has been competing in several rallies, winning the Copthorne Bay of Island Far North Rally at the beginning of July, albeit a local club event. 

The Hawke’s Bay event, the fourth round of the 2022 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), was his first serious outing in our domestic competition and he didn’t disappoint.

Although current NZRC leader Hayden Paddon wasn’t entered due to competing in Europe, Rally Hawke’s Bay was filled with the best-of-the-rest.

Shane van Gisbergen Skoda Fabia R5

Van Gisbergen (Skoda Fabia R5) immediately won the first three stages, first beating Robbie Stokes (Ford Fiesta AP4) by 1.4 seconds in the 12.85km Stage 1, then beating eventual rally winner, Ben Hunt (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo), by 3.3 seconds in the 17.11km Stage 2 and again by 5.0 seconds in the 13.24km Stage 3.

At this point van Gisbergen was leading Ben Hunt by 17.1 seconds heading into Special Stage 4.  Unfortunately van Gisbergen went off the road in SS4, temporarily withdrawing from the rally.  Having replaced his gearbox in service, he rejoined the rally for the last two stages where he finished fifth and second.

Last stage of 2022 Rally Hawke’s Bay onboard with Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Glen Weston in the RaceTorque R5 Skoda

Talking to van Gisbergen leading up to the event, he had no expectations and just wanted to enjoy himself. There is no doubt that he is just going to get faster and concedes it is a matter of taking time and getting more experience on gravel roads with pace notes.

“It is going to take time. I don’t like not knowing what is around the corner so it is about trusting the (pace) notes and having confidence in a six-left or a five-right.”

There are few circuit racers who can successfully make the switch to competing on gravel and compete at the pointy end of the competition. What Shane van Gisbergen showed in the weekend is freakish as he has an amazing talent. Let’s enjoy the ride as van Gisbergen says, ‘It’s going to be awesome!’

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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