Van Gisbergen to contest New Zealand Grand Prix

Shane van Gisbergen will contest next month's New Zealand Grand Prix – if there's a relaxation of border restrictions between NZ and Australia.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

The reigning Bathurst 1000 winner, who is currently spending the Supercars off-season in his native NZ, has inked a deal to join the Toyota Racing Series for a one-off appearance at the Grand Prix.

The agreement follows a recent test for van Gisbergen in one of the current FT-60 cars at Hampton Downs.

However the deal will require Queensland joining the New Zealand/Australia travel bubble before then.

Van Gisbergen is currently due back at Triple Eight Race Engineering in Brisbane on February 5, ahead of the pre-season Supercars test on February 14.

As it stands all NZ arrivals into Queensland must undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine, which would rule van Gisbergen out of the January 23-24 Grand Prix.

That will change if Queensland joins the Northern Territory and New South Wales in the trans-Tasman bubble between now and then.

“Shane is one of New Zealand’s greatest drivers and ambassadors of the modern era and will be a massive drawcard for the first running of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs, which we’ve coined the Race of Champions,” Hampton Downs chief operating officer Josie Spillane said.

“Hampton Downs has been working hard behind the scenes to deliver several NZ champions for the event and we are delighted Shane has stepped up and committed despite the COVID cloud hanging over the final outcome.

“If we put everything in life on hold until we know what is happening with COVID, we’d do nothing. So we commit, we put in the hard yards and we hope that New Zealand and Australia continue their success in their battle with COVID, and that results in an open border with Queensland.”

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Van Gisbergen added that he'd love to take part in the event, particularly with NZ legend Kenny Smith set to make his 50th GP start.

"The New Zealand Grand Prix carries so much history and it is going to be really cool getting the chance to compete in it,” he said.

“Hampton Downs is an awesome venue for it and will provide great racing.

“While I don’t have any expectations and adapting to driving the cars will take a bit of getting used to, it is going to be a lot of fun and I will give it my best.

“It would be amazing to race alongside Kenny Smith again. That guy is an absolute legend, and it will be neat to say I was there for his 50th Grand Prix.”

Van Gisbergen competed at the NZGP back in 2007, finishing 12th en route to second in the TRS standings.

Later that year he made his Supercars debut with Team Kiwi Racing.

Van Gisbergen was set to keep busy with a speedway programme in NZ over the summer, only for that plan to be shut down by Triple Eight.


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