Van Gisbergen leaves rally rivals in his dust

Shane van Gisbergen gets some air during one of his laps of the track used for the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge rally event on Sunday. Photos Geoff Ridder Photography

Kiwi motorsport ace Shane van Gisbergen blitzed a star-studded field to take out the inaugural Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge rally sprint in rural east Auckland on Sunday.

The high-profile event was held in front of about 5000 spectators at Andrew Hawkeswood’s family property in Whitford.

It saw competitors blast around a purpose-built gravel road at the farm that features high speed jumps, sharp corners and close proximity to spectators.

Among the motorsport stars who took part are World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon, Andrew Hawkeswood and his son Jack Hawkeswood, Greg Murphy, Joe McAndrew and current New Zealand rally champion Ben Hunt, among others.

Van Gisbergen, a former pupil of Saint Kentigern College in Pakuranga, is a V8 Supercars driver and the 2020 Bathurst winner.

He left his rivals in his dust and beat out Phil Campbell in the head-to-head final to take out first-place in the Battle of Jacks Ridge.

Paddon set a record time during the early runs around the course before making a small mistake toward the end of his top-eight run.

He clipped a bank, which resulted in him rolling and exiting the contest. He was uninjured in the crash.

Jack Hawkeswood finished third in the event, which is named in his honour, as is the farm at which it was staged.

Fellow driver Matt Summerfield rounded out the top four.

Shane van Gisbergen with the trophy he earned for taking out the Battle of Jacks Ridge.

Van Gisbergen piloted a Ralliart New Zealand Mitsubishi Mirage AP4 rally car to victory.

He proved he’s a talented driver on any surface in winning the competition and says he would love to do more rallying if his Supercars boss allows it.

“The whole few days has been really cool,” van Gisbergen says.

“I had a great time and learned a whole lot about rallying. A huge thanks to Dad, the Ralliart New Zealand team and my co-driver Brianna.”

The purpose-built venue sits on the Hawkeswood’s family property in Whitford Park Road.

Andrew Hawkeswood took to the track on Sunday behind the wheel of his Mazda 2 rally car, powered by a turbocharged 1800cc engine putting out about 310 horsepower.

He’s the 2017 national rally champion, a former New Zealand hill climb champion, the runner-up in the 2019 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and has competed at the famous Pikes Peak hill climb in the United States.

His son Jack is a rising star on the motorsport scene.

The track was initially designed to be used during the 2020 World Rally Championship Rally New Zealand but the event was cancelled in May due to the Covid-19 pandemic.