2013 - year in review
Some say you can have too much of a good thing. Not Shane Van Gisbergen. As the 24-year-old Kiwi race ace relaxed at his parents' Auckland home over the Christmas break he was able to reflect back on a year in which he excelled in not one, not two but three different national-level race series, and raced - at last count - five different cars.
First came a one-off drive with car owner Tony Quinn and Matt Kingsley in the Liqui-Moly 12 Hour at Bathurst in early February. Third was an excellent result for the trio sharing Quinn's Porsche GT3 R, but as it turned out, it was only a hint of what was to come.
A weekend later Van Gisbergen spent Saturday testing his VIP Petfoods-backed Holden Commodore for his new team - Tekno Autosports - at the official V8 Supercar test day at Sydney Motorsport Park in Australia, then - after a late night trans-Tasman flight - Sunday racing his new ACA (Int) NZ and Koba Batteries-backed Ford Falcon V8 at the opening round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers series at Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand.
It was a big ask but in an early sign of the versatility that would become a hallmark of his 2013 season the talented Kiwi qualified 10th then finished the first BNT race eighth, the second fourth and the third in second place for third overall.
Two more third placings across two very different categories and race formats was not a bad way to start the season proper. And it was only to get better. While his return to the V8 Supercar series at the annual Clipsal 500 meeting over the Feb 28-March 03 weekend was not without controversy, Van Gisbergen let his driving do the talking, putting the VIP Petfoods Commodore on pole for both races and winning the Sunday race after a battle royal with defending series champion Jamie Whincup and his Red Bull teammate Craig Lowndes.
And so it went on. Over the year Van Gisbergen claimed three poles, won four races and three rounds of the BNT V8 SuperTourers New Zealand series to finish third overall, and claimed four poles, won two races and finished on the podium nine times on his way to finishing fifth overall - as well as first privateer and first New Zealander, an achievement that Van Gisbergen has done for 5 consecutive years - in the V8 Supercar series. In doing so Van Gisbergen and team mate Jonathan Webb took Team Tekno Autosports to fourth in the teams' title race, ahead of - amongst others - HRT.
That was by no means all either.
In early November Van Gisbergen put the Carter brothers' highly-modified 6-litre ex-V8 Supercar series Ford Falcon on pole and helped regular driver Dwayne Carter win the one hour preliminary race at the inaugural Australian GT Series meeting at the new Highlands Motorsport Park circuit in Central Otago, and - just a week later - claimed his first Drift podium at the opening round of the 2013/14 Cody's D1NZ New Zealand Drifting Championships at Hampton Downs.
Worldwide there can be few drivers who have contested as many races - and/or disciplines - as Van Gisbergen, let alone done so with so much conspicuous success. Yet the young Kiwi makes light of the fact.
"Really,"he says, "it was just good to be driving anything this year. Sure it's been tough in terms of the traveling but when it's something you enjoy so much like racing it never becomes too big a problem."
A good thing because his 2014 schedule is looking just as busy.
This weekend Van Gisbergen is in Florida contesting the 'Roar before the 24' endurance race in a Porsche for Alex Job Racing. A fortnight later he will be back home competing at the third round of the Cody's D1NZ National Drifting championship then it is back to the US for the Daytona 24 Hour race over the January 26/27 weekend before returning to Australia to prepare for a second year contesting the V8 Supercar series with the Tekno Autosports team.
While various date clashes mean he cannot commit to a return to the BNT V8 SuperTourer series here, van Gisbergen says he would like to do a second Liqui-Moly 12 Hour at Bathurst with Tony Quinn in February and re-visit an offer by the Andrew Simms/Ralliart team to contest the New Zealand Rally championship later in the year.
That offer was originally made for the 2013 season but Van Gisbergen had to decline it when he Tekno Autosports offered him the V8 Supercar drive.
Whether he can revive it for 2014 will still depend on round dates, but he is definitely keen.
Shane Van Gisbergen has had a busy year racing V8 Supercars (13V8SupercarsShanvanGisbergenleadsGoldCoast.jpg and 13V8 SupercarsShanevanGisbergen-1.jpg. Photo credit: Vue Images) in Australia, and BNT V8 SuperTourers (HJ3E1532_SVanGisbergen.jpg Photo Credit: Euan Cameron) and 'The Rattla' Ford Falcon in the Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship (seen here battling series points leader 'Mad Mike' Whiddett at Whangarei. Photo Credit: Erron Soon) in New Zealand.