Kiwi Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen has committed to entering the Battle of Jacks Ridge in November and will take on the best rally drivers in the country at their own game.
The 2016 Supercars champion has been one of the most successful drivers of the past decade and is renowned for his unique ability to drive any kind of car on any kind of event competitively.
While circuit racing is clearly the 31-year-old’s forte, Van Gisbergen started out in speedway, motocross and karts while he’s enjoyed plenty of success drifting in recent years.
His father Robert was a well-known and talented rally driver and Shane has often expressed an interest in competing on gravel.
With the unique situation COVID-19 has forced upon the sport, Van Gisbergen will be able to return to New Zealand after this year’s Bathurst 1000 race, quarantine for 14 days before tackling the Battle of Jacks Ridge.
“It is pretty cool and something I grew up with,” Van Gisbergen said. “I remember playing in the mud at Dad’s rallies and at rally sprints and stuff and always watching and loving it.
“It was something I never really got the chance to do when I was young – I did a lot of gymkhana and sprints and stuff but never really did a proper rally so it is pretty exciting that our season finishes early so I can come to New Zealand and do some cool events.
“It was a shame Rally New Zealand didn’t happen for all these reasons going on in the world at the moment but the alternative we have got in the City of Auckland Rally and Battle of Jacks Ridge is pretty special and I am looking forward to getting there.”
The Red Bull Holden racer grew up just down the road from the purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage on 2017 national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property.
He has yet to see the exact layout but knows the countryside well having learned to drive on father Robert’s farm a couple of kilometres away.
“I have run past it and run past the quarry where he is developing it but I haven’t been there,” the 31-year-old said.
“I have seen what has come out in the media the last few months – it looks pretty awesome.
“There are some good jumps and cool corners and I think it will be a good show for spectators with some great spots to watch.”
The opportunity to go rallying is something Van Gisbergen has long pondered. While the stars have aligned to allow him to take part in this event, he admits there is a temptation to do more rallying in the coming years.
“I have no expectations on how it is going to go but for sure when the helmet comes on and I’m at the start line I will have a good go at it,” Van Gisbergen said.
“At the same time I will stick within my limits – it is a bit different to anything I have ever done.
“At least you get a few goes at it to learn the track limits.
“For sure I would love to keep doing it. I am sure I will enjoy it and we will see if anything comes of it.
“I just want to go there and have some fun and have a play around back at home.
“It is something we have tried to do for a few years – I’ve had a few tests in AP4 cars and things like that.
“Hopefully I can do some more in the future but this will be a good start point.”
The Battle of Jacks Ridge on Sunday November 15 is attracting a phenomenal field of drivers and the event will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.
With technical corners, full commitment jumps and stunning spectator viewing, the Battle of Jacks Ridge promises to be the best domestic rally event ever staged in New Zealand.
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