It’s probably stating the obvious but Aucklander Shane Van Gisbergen is truly a man of many talents, particularly in the motorsports world.
The Kiwi international supercar driver swaps four-wheels for two when he rolls out a 2010-model Yamaha YZ250F to race the traditional post-Christmas motocross extravaganza near Whakatane today, although he insists it will be “just for fun” and he certainly does not have any expectations of winning.
The 22-year-old from Manukau will race in the MX2 class.
“I had not ridden a motorcycle all year until two weeks ago,” said Van Gisbergen.
“I just go out occasionally and ride with a couple of mates. I’m just a social rider and not really very fast at all.”
But the same can’t be said of Van Gisbergen when he gets behind the wheel of his V8 supercar.
“I had a pretty good year with the supercar championships in Australia this year. I won two races and finished fourth in the championship. I was pretty close to finishing third.
“At Bathurst I was running fifth until my team-mate, Johnny McIntyre, got shunted into a fence. We lost a few places but fought back to finish fifth anyway.
“Riding motorcycles is good for my supercar career,” he said. “It teaches me about feeling for grip on the track and picking good lines too.
“I’ve raced quite a few quad bikes and motocross bikes over the years (he raced with distinction at the New Zealand TT Championships on a Yamaha quad bike in 2007) because it helps me with my race craft.”
As a seven-year-old, van Gisbergen began his motor-racing career on dirt bikes, becoming a mini motocross champion, a midget speedway champion and a karting champion. He was also a three-time national ATV champion.
“I’ve got a nice little motocross track at home and I got the digger out recently to make a few jumps but then it rained and turned everything into slop. We don’t have those problems on the car tracks,” he laughed.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com