NZ FF: Shane Van Gisbergen season preview

'ADVANTAGE VAN GISBERGEN' IN FIGHT FOR NZ FORMULA FORD TITLE It's a case of 'advantage Van Gisbergen' as the 2005/06 New Zealand Formula Ford championship reaches its critical point. Long-time championship leader Shane Van Gisbergen ...


It's a case of 'advantage Van Gisbergen' as the 2005/06 New Zealand Formula Ford championship reaches its critical point.

Long-time championship leader Shane Van Gisbergen recovered from a first race dnf to dominate the second and third races at the fifth round of the series at Feilding's Manfeild Autocourse late last month, and this week the 16-year-old Manukau City, Auckland driver enjoyed his first session with world-renowned motor racing strategist Dr Kerry Spackman.

Dr Spackman is an expatriate New Zealand neuroscientist who consults to the McLaren Formula 1 team on issues of sensory and neuro-computational factors affecting an elite racing driver's ability to optimally control an F-1 car. He is a graduate of both Waikato and Auckland Universities and before he moved to the UK where he is now based, started an electronics company which won the National Electronic and Engineering Development Association award for the most significant export product.

Since then he has also set up a professional driver training company - O.M.I - with former World F1 champion Jackie Stewart, and more recently co-written a TV documentary for the Discovery Channel called 'The Science of Speed.'

It was this programme which inspired MotorSport NZ President Mr Stephen Kennedy to get in touch and float the idea of the President's Scholarship programme. Later this year Dr Spackman will also release a book on the subject of winning called 'The Winner's Bible.'

Even after just one session with Dr Spackman Van Gisbergen says that he has learnt a lot about himself and the way he approaches his driving and he is looking forward to putting some of the ideas into practice at the penultimate round of the 2005/06 New Zealand Formula Ford championship at the new, extended Taupo Motor Racing Circuit later this month.

Taupo is a critical round for Van Gisbergen, despite the fact that he has been the pace-setter and championship points leader since the first round of the 2005/06 championship.

At Manfeild last month he again set the fastest lap time in qualifying, and started the first race from pole position, but title rival Nelson Hartley collided with him on the first lap and Van Gisbergen's prone car was hit by Daniel Jilesen.

The race was stopped and re-started, but without Van Gisbergen, who's Trade Parts-sponsored Team 97 car had a cracked bellhousing. That meant the first dnf (did not finish) for the Trade Parts/Team 97 car, and a valuable points scoring opportunity lost to Hartley, whose car was undamaged in the incident.

Further bad news for the Van Gisbergen camp was that there were no spare bellhousings available and that the one they had would have to be repaired.

Fortunately through a friend of a friend Shane's father Robert was able to track down Tony Drysdale, a local boat builder and expert in the art of welding alloy. Despite being at a wedding when he took the call on his cell-phone Drysdale took on the difficult task and the car was ready to go again on Sunday morning.

And what a morning that turned out to be. In a stunning display of his world-class skill behind the wheel Van Gisbergen led the first Formula Ford race from start to finish and won the second - albeit after momentarily slipping back to third at the start - by a similar margin.

On his way he proved why his progress this year is being watched with such interest by team owners both here and overseas. No-one else was able to get near him as he, to use his own words, 'checked out!'

Needless to say he also set the fastest race lap in both Sunday races.

He did because he could and because; 'I just wanted to show them...'

This month's Paul Kelly Motor Group New Zealand Championship motor racing meeting at Taupo (over the March 18/19 weekend) is shaping up to be one of the biggest and definitely most anticipated on the 2005/06 calendar, with the all-new extended circuit set to be used by the Parker ENZED V8s, Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup cars and Toyota Racing Series and New Zealand Formula Ford Championship single-seaters for the first time.

Shane Van Gisbergen's 2005/06 New Zealand Formula Ford championship campaign is backed by Auckland specialist motor vehicle parts supplier Trade Parts plus a group of businessmen who have clubbed together under the Team 97 Racing banner.

Numbered in that group are The Metalman, Hall's Refrigerated Transport, Buxton Leather Goods, Genuine Vehicle Imports, Hamilton Party Hire, Pro Floors, SpeedSport magazine and Sierra Motor Company.


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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jackie Stewart , Paul Kelly
Teams Toyota Racing