Van Gisbergen to tackle ‘foreign’ rally challenge in ACT

Shane van Gisbergen

Two-time Supercars title winner Shane van Gisbergen will make his Australian Rally Championship debut in Canberra in two months’ time.

Van Gisbergen will be behind the wheel of a Skoda Fabia R5 prepared by Race Torque Engineering for the Netier National Capital Rally on April 1-3.

The 32-year-old is well known for his diverse motorsport activities, and has prior rally experience in events such as winning New Zealand’s Battle of Jacks Ridge in late 2020.

However, he’s by no means expecting a straightforward task up against the likes of Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry and Lewis Bates.

“I just love driving and competing against the best,” said van Gisbergen, who had last year flagged his interest in ARC competition.

“Rally drivers are the best-of-the-best. You’re driving a car as fast as you can and it’s on gravel, it’s so foreign to me, listening to someone else tell you where to go.

“It’s an awesome challenge and I want to see if I can adapt and get better and better at it and hopefully have a proper go at it.

“This is a great initiation and we’ve got some pretty cool people onboard.

“I’ve always grown up with rally, but it’s nerve-wracking to finally be in the national series in a proper car.

“I’ve dipped the toe in the water in New Zealand… but to do a Championship round is going to be pretty tough to jump straight in.”

Van Gisbergen, who will be joined by championship-winning co-driver Glen Weston, has ruled out tackling the full ARC season.

“I won’t be doing the whole Championship, but I’ll go and do the first round and have some fun,” he clarified.

“I’ll try and study as much film as I can to see the roads and see how people approach it.

“I’ll be playing on my sim a lot, I’ve got a HP Omen at home, I’ll play the DiRT Rally game on that and learn to process the notes, how to approach things and get my brain thinking about that.

“I don’t set any goals, I’ll just go there, have fun and as long as I’m prepared as well as I can and the car runs well, I’ll go and drive and things will happen.

“[One of my idols is] Possum Bourne, he was from just down the road where I was. He was coming over here and smoking all the Aussies, so I always supported him.

“It’s awesome to be part of the Red Bull family and to drive with them in Supercars, but now in rally as well. They are a [Australian Rally] Championship sponsor too, so it’s pretty awesome for them to be supporting the sport and I hope I can represent them well.

“I can’t wait to get out there and throw some stones.”

Motorsport Australia director of motorsport and commercial operations, Michael Smith, was pleased to see van Gisbergen become a headline act at the season-opener.

“Having Shane competing in the opening round of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship is a sign of just how strong rallying is right now in Australia,” he said.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Shane to the Netier National Capital Rally.

“Motorsport Australia is delighted to have Red Bull’s support for both this initiative and also as a sponsor of the ARC itself. There’s a lot of excitement about our pre-season test day in March, as well as the opening round in Canberra in April.

“No doubt Shane will have his work cut out for him with all of our ARC regulars eager to not let the Supercars champion cause an upset on their home turf. It will be a terrific event for both competitors and spectators.”

Van Gisbergen and Weston will take part in the ARC official pre-season test day and season launch in Canberra on March 8, just two days after Round 1 of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship wraps up in Sydney.

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