Young Kiwi talent Shane van Gisbergen has claimed the remaining prize seat at Stone Brothers Racing, the 18-year-old set to drive the number-nine Ford BF Falcon in the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship Series. Van Gisbergen's rise into the V8...
Young Kiwi talent Shane van Gisbergen has claimed the remaining prize seat at Stone Brothers Racing, the 18-year-old set to drive the number-nine Ford BF Falcon in the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Van Gisbergen's rise into the V8 Supercar ranks has been rapid. The Manukau-born driver made his debut in the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Oran Park last year and immediately showed his potential, earning championship points in five of the seven rounds he competed in.
Van Gisbergen understands the opportunity he has been given by the three-time Championship team.
"This drive comes with a big responsibility; at a fairly young age I'm in a great team with a very talented team mate in James Courtney. It's a great position for me to be in and I need to make the most of it," says van Gisbergen.
"Ross and Jimmy have told me what they want me to achieve this year and I have set some higher goals for myself.
"We want to be genuine top ten contenders towards the end of the year and we can do that if we work hard and keep on learning."
Van Gisbergen says he is a little surprised at the rate his career is progressing but is keeping a level head.
"My circuit racing career has been pretty short but I have had the results in that time.
"It has been a quick rise to V8 Supercars and I couldn't have done it without my family and friends behind me or without the support of the Stone brothers.
"Going back to New Zealand over Christmas helps keep me level headed. Now that I am back in Australia I come in to the workshop every chance I get and help where I can. Any bit of information I can soak up is sure to help me in the long run."
Team owners Ross and Jimmy Stone have no qualms about placing their trust in a new-comer.
"Jimmy and I have watched Shane's career with interest for a number of years and we know he has talent; he proved that last year in gaining Championship points in five of the seven rounds he competed in," says Ross Stone.
"SBR has always leaned towards taking on younger drivers and developing new talent and this move is a continuation of that tradition."
Stone believes that van Gisbergen will handle the pressure of the big league well.
"We've set some challenging but realistic goals for Shane and he has a good head on his shoulders and has taken that on board."
"We're realistic; we know we will go through a learning and development phase with Shane. We've done it before with the likes of Marcos Ambrose and Jason Bright.
"With support and direction from the team, Shane and SBR will make it to the top step of the podium in years to come."
Van Gisbergen began racing All Terrain Vehicles at the age of eight, moving into karts in 2002. He won the CIK Junior Trophy of New Zealand and the Junior North Island Championship titles in 2003.
He was awarded the Speedsport Star of Tomorrow Formula First Scholarship in 2004, in which he took rookie honours in his first season.
He went on to compete in the 2005/2006 National Formula Ford Championship, winning the title outright at his first ever attempt, a feat that has never been achieved by a rookie in the 32-year history of the Championship.
Shane graduated to the Toyota Racing Series with International Motorsport in the 2006/2007 season, winning at Taupo and Manfield and finishing second overall in the series before getting his big break with the SBR-prepared Team Kiwi Racing outfit in July 2007.
SBR will announce a new major sponsor for van Gisbergen's number-nine Ford BF Falcon on Tuesday 5 February