SVG slides out of contention for Rally Hawke’s Bay win

Shane van Gisbergen in action in the Far North Rally, earlier in July

Shane van Gisbergen has missed out on victory in the New Zealand Rally Championship’s Hawke’s Bay round after sliding off the road while leading.

In challenging conditions, the two-time Supercars champion was 17.1s to the good after winning each of the first three stages in his Supercheap Auto Skoda Fabia R5.

However, he came unstuck not long after starting Special Stage 4 and his attempt to then get reverse gear led to transmission damage.

Van Gisbergen had to retire from the stage and also missed SS5 and SS6, before returning with a replacement gearbox to claim fifth on SS7 and second on the eighth and final test of the event.

However, it was not enough for Car #97 to be classified as a finisher in overall terms.

Two-time national champion Ben Hunt, who had an early throttle problem in his own R5-spec Fabia, assumed the overall lead due to van Gisbergen’s mishap and would go on to win the rally.

Ben Hunt. Picture: New Zealand Rally Championship Facebook

Second overall went to Ari Pettigrew, at 42.4s adrift in his Holden Barina AP4, with Matt Summerfield claiming third in a Mitsubishi Mirage AP4.

Rally Hawke’s Bay marked Round 4 of the season, with Round 5 to support the World Rally Championship from late-September.

Van Gisbergen’s drive today represented further preparation for his debut at world championship level in the Auckland-based event, when he will drive the same Skoda in the WRC2 class.

In his other two rally starts this year, the 33-year-old finished second in Australia’s National Capital Rally in April and first in the Far North Rally earlier this month.

Next weekend, he will be back in his Red Bull Ampol Racing ZB Commodore Supercar when the OTR SuperSprint unfolds at The Bend Motorsport Park.

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