Cancelled flight puts Van Gisbergen’s test at risk

Shane van Gisbergen won last weekend’s New Zealand Grand Prix

Shane van Gisbergen is at risk of missing pre-season Supercars testing after his flight from New Zealand was cancelled.

There are just 15 days until the test at Queensland Raceway takes place on February 12 for Queensland-based teams.

Supercars will also host testing at Winton Motor Raceway on February 16 for southern-based teams.

Last year’s Bathurst 1000 winner was set to return to Brisbane on Tuesday morning in time for the Red Bull Ampol Racing livery launch.

However, he had his flight cancelled by Air New Zealand. That came shortly after new restrictions were imposed by the Australian Government putting a halt on quarantine-free travel for at least 72 hours.

Similarly, countryman Andre Heimgartner also had his flight cancelled by the airline but is aiming to return to Australia this weekend if restrictions are eased.

Kelly Grove Racing has already signalled the possibility of fielding the recently retired Rick Kelly or one of its yet-to-be-announced co-drivers.

Van Gisbergen’s return to Australia is on hold as he and his team waits to see whether the 72-hour quarantine-free travel halt will be lifted this week.

The 31-year-old has flights booked for the coming days in the event of the loosening of restrictions.

While van Gisbergen is set to miss the team’s launch on Friday, Triple Eight Race Engineering boss Roland Dane said he wasn’t concerned if his driver missed the pre-season hitout and remained optimistic the Kiwi would be able to test.

Dane said it was worth waiting to see if restrictions eased rather than bringing van Gisbergen back sooner and undergo quarantine.

“I’m not concerned about the test day,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“Obviously you want to do a test day, but it’s not the end of the world. He’s a big boy.

“I’m just concerned with everyone getting messed around and all the plans made around it.

“We’ve got enough time before the first race. We’ll make a call in the next couple of days.

“If it’s not opening up, then he’ll have to do 14 days quarantine. It’s as simple as that, but let’s be optimistic.”

On Monday it was announced by the Greg Hunt, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, that all quarantine-free travel would be temporarily suspended across the country.

The new restrictions mean that any arrival into Australia from New Zealand would have to undergo up to 14 days of managed isolation.

It comes after one case of COVID-19 was discovered in the community.

In recent days extensive contact tracing and testing of close contacts has so far revealed no further cases.

Van Gisbergen and Heimgartner returned to New Zealand following last year’s Bathurst 1000 to compete in the opening Castrol Toyota Racing Series round and New Zealand Grand Prix.

The 72-hour halt on quarantine-free travel is slated to end at 14:00 AEDT on Thursday, but could be extended.

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