Shane van Gisbergen has announced that he will quit V8 Supercars at the end of the season. The 23-year-old has cited personal reasons for his shock withdrawal from the sport.
Rumours of van Gisbergen’s departure have rapidly gained pace since they first surfaced at last weekend’s penultimate round of the 2012 championship season at Winton Raceway. He retired from the first race after a collision, but finished fourth in Sunday’s race to consolidate his fifth place in the current championship standings.
Despite having just re-signed a three-year deal to remain with his employer, Stone Brothers Racing, the team has agreed to release the New Zealander from their services after next weekend’s season finale at Sydney Olympic Park.
The team was at pains to stress that its merger with Erebus Motorsport and the upcoming switch from Ford (with whom van Gisbergen has been associated for his entire touring car career) to AMG was not a factor in his decision to quit.
“SBR are disappointed to be losing such an exceptional talent and while there has been much speculation in the media regarding the reasons behind Shane wanting to leave, it is not for want of driving for another V8 team,” team principal Ross Stone said in the team’s media release issued today.
The team added that the main sponsor of van Gisbergen’s #9 entry, SP Tools, would continue to remain with the team next year,” Stone added.
“They will continue the three year contract they currently have, nor will [his departure] have any impact on the current sponsorship contracts we have.”
“I have enjoyed a five successful years with Stone Brothers Racing and was given as unique opportunity by the team to race V8s at a very young age, which I am very grateful for,” van Gisbergen added.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ross, Jimmy, my sponsors and my team for the time and money they invested in me during my V8 career.
After a rapid rise through the open-wheeler ranks, van Gisbergen made his V8 Supercars debut in 2007 with SBR and started a full-time campaign with the team in 2008.
Considered New Zealand’s brightest star in the V8 landscape, he finally broke through to claim his maiden race win last year at his home race in Hamilton last year, and backed that up with a second victory at Darwin (pictured above left) en route to finishing fourth in the championship standings.
This year has seen SBR cast into a supporting role among the Ford runners, and van Gisbergen has clocked up four further podium finishes, as well as a win in the qualifying sprint race for the Sandown 500.
The announcement leaves the team with plenty of work to do to line up a replacement driver in its line-up, and given the change to AMG during the off-season, there could be several off-contract drivers who could be very keen to join the team’s ranks.
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