Van Gisbergen relishes WRC experience

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Shane van Gisbergen/Glen Weston

Shane van Gisbergen was buzzing following his first full day of WRC action in Rally New Zealand.

The two-time Supercars Champion and current 2022 Supercars leader was third fastest in the WRC2 class and 12th overall, alongside co-driver Glen Weston in their Supercheap Auto-backed Škoda Fabia.

His only setback in an otherwise impressive outing was a spin in Special Stage 4.

Van Gisbergen was left elated following the conclusion of action.

“Whaanga Coast was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car,” he enthused.

“Man, what an awesome day. I’m just having a ball, living my dream.

“Looking forward to the next two days. Hopefully get better and tidy up a few mistakes.

“I’m stoked to have Glen [Weston] here and we’ve had an awesome day.

“That was epic. It was very hard to read. I’m sort of learning as I go with the mixed conditions.

“Man, it’s been so fun.”

Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja continue to lead the outright standings, from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin and Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas.

Championship leaders Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen were fourth, with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson in fifth.

Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville/Martin Wydaeghe and Oliver Solberg/ Elliot Edmondson finished ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing duo Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston.

New Zealand pairing Hayden Paddon and John Kennard paced the field in WRC2, topping the timesheets for the class to finish the day ninth fastest overall.

WRC2 regulars Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak picked up two stage wins to finish second fastest in class.

On WRC debut, 2019 Australian Rally Champion Harry Bates and John McCarthy finished the day fourth in class and 13th overall in their Skoda Fabia Evo.

New Zealanders Ben Hunt/Tony Rawstorn briefly moved up the leaderboard into fourth, before their Skoda Fabia Evo clipped a rock on a high-speed left-hander 8.8km into Special Stage 7, that saw them end the fence, dropping them down the order to 10th in class and 22nd overall.

The Australian privateer effort of Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis finished the day eighth in class and 19th overall.

Rally New Zealand continues tomorrow with double runs through Kaipara Hills (15.83km), Puhoi (22.50km), and Komokoriki (5.81km).

The action kicks off with Special Stage 8 from 08:08 local time/05:08 AEST.

Stan Sport’s live and ad-free coverage resumes with Special Stage 8 from 05:00 AEST.

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