van Gisbergen eyes Australian Rally Championship debut

Repco Supercars Championship star Shane van Gisbergen is hopeful of showing his skills on gravel at a future round of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) in 2021.

The Triple Eight Race Engineering driver recently got an opportunity to sit in and familiarise himself with Australian rally driver’s Luke Anear’s AGI Sport Ford Fiesta R5 in Queensland, ahead of the second round of the ARC in Gympie this weekend.

van Gisbergen has also confirmed he will attend the rally across the weekend and learn more about the ARC, as he contemplates a possible Australian national rally debut in a future round of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship in 2021.

van Gisbergen’s attendance at the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland will turn plenty of heads, with the Kiwi no stranger to the rally discipline in recent times – and the Supercars driver has already shown he has plenty of pace behind the wheel of a rally car.

Late last year, the Bathurst 1000 winner competed in two rally events in New Zealand, including winning the Battle of Jacks Ridge and winning his class in the City of Auckland Rally in November.

The M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta R5 van Gisbergen got an inside look at in recent days is one of the quickest in Australia, with the WRC2 car featuring a 1.6L turbo direct injection power plant, running on Hoosier tyres.

If van Gisbergen is able to take part in an ARC event, he will be going up against the likes of Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia’s Harry and Lewis Bates, AGI Sport’s Luke Anear and Triple Eight co-owner, Tony Quinn – who will also be competing at this weekend’s rally in Gympie.

“(The ARC) is something I’ve followed snippets of the last few years, and now Tony Quinn as well, our team owner, is racing in it so it’s cool to watch,” van Gisbergen said.

“Seeing (the ARC) grow and get bigger, and the drivers up the front when you watch the onboards and the stage times and see how quick those guys are and how hard they’re pushing. It’s pretty impressive that’s for sure.

“I’d love to have a go and have a play and maybe do something in the future. I would love to do something here and have some fun in a car.”

Motorsport Australia Director of Motorsport & Commercial Operations, Michael Smith was thrilled with the idea of having van Gisbergen race in the ARC.

“To have a driver of Shane’s calibre trying to find an opportunity to compete in the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship is certainly an exciting prospect for fans and competitors alike,” Smith said.

“We’re quite hopeful we’ll see Shane at an ARC event later this year and I’m sure he will have the rally bug after attending the Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland in Gympie this weekend.”

This weekend’s rally features 78 entrants across both the ARC and Queensland Rally Championship, with Harry Bates and co-driver John McCarthy eager to repeat their dominant performance at the Netier National Capital Rally in April.

The Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland takes place in Gympie on 21-23 May.