There will be four Kiwis racing in front of their home crowd this weekend at Pukekohe and while they are all quite popular, one stands out as the most thrilling driver in the competition and perhaps the world.
Shane Van Gisbergen entered the main game as a full-timer in 2008 and everyone has been talking up his skill ever since. Not only is SVG fast in a V8 Supercar, but he’s also won in the Blancpain Endurance Series and his drifting background gives him incredible car control in both the dry and wet (which, as he’ll tell you, he doesn’t enjoy racing in).
He came close to scoring his first ever win after a daring battle with Jamie Whincup at the Gold Coast 600 in 2010.
Van Gisbergen scored his first two victories in 2011, the first coming at home on the streets of Hamilton. His second came at Darwin, featuring a little drift off the final corner and a smokey post race celebration. He was one of just two Ford drivers to win in 2011 in what was a mostly dismal year for the blue oval.
Departing from Stone Brothers Racing at the end of 2012, Van Gisbergen switched to the Holden outfit, Tekno Autosports. He found immediate success, taking out the Clipsal 500 in the opening round of the championship. 2013 was also the year where he began dipping his toes in GT3 racing at the Bathurst 12 hour. The 2014 12 hour was where he gained international recognition after he attempted to overtake Bernd Schneider at Skyline, down the esses, and through the dipper.
And shifting? He can do that in a unique way, too.
YEP. With his wrist.
As mentioned earlier, Van Gisbergen has superb car control and performs well in the rain, which can be evidenced by this move unlapping himself at the 2013 Bathurst 12 hour. He recently devised a special trick for keeping wet rubber cool on a drying track: dipping the tires into THE GRASS. The Kiwi performed this stunt at Sydney Motorsports Park and more recently, down Conrod Straight at Bathurst.
In 2016, Van Gisbergen will transition to Triple Eight Race Engineering and pilot the second Red Bull Commodore, joining an already ominous driver lineup featuring Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes. As the 26-year-old starts a new chapter in his career, one that will give him his best opportunity yet at championship and Bathurst glory, we can’t help but wonder what he has in store for us next.