WRC news | Shane van Gisbergen ‘living the dream’ as WRC podium looms

It was a day of anguish and elation up and down the order on day two of Rally New Zealand as some shone and others faltered.

For two-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen there were plenty of reasons to smile, even if it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

The Kiwi ended Friday’s running third in the second-tier WRC2 division, 1:37.0s in arrears of class leader Hayden Paddon.

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That margin might have been smaller if not for a spin that saw him lose his front bumper in the process on the first run through Te Akau North (SS4).

Fortunately, he escaped with only cosmetic damage and ended the longest day of the rally in sight of the podium.

“I didn’t crash it that time, so that was pretty good,” said van Gisbergen at the end of the second pass of Te Akau North (SS7).

“Man, what an awesome day. I’m just having a ball, living my dream. Looking forward to the next to two days. Hopefully get better and tidy up a few mistakes. 

“I’m stoked to have Glenn [Weston, co-driver] here and we’ve had an awesome day. Really, really cool.”

Ironically, the bumper found its way into the hands of one of his sponsors watching from the side of the road.

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Earlier in the day, van Gisbergen spoke of the challenge he faced as the Te Akau South (SS6) stage was wet in parts and dry in others.

“I had my own issues this morning. As you can see, we have no front bumper,” he explained.

“That was epic. It was very hard to read. I’m sort of learning as I go with the mixed conditions.

“Man, it’s been so fun. The Whaanga Coast before was some of the most fun I’ve had in a race car.”

Van Gisbergen’s countryman Paddon ended day one in the lead of WRC2 and one minute clear of Kajetan Kajetanowicz of Poland.

Outside of the top three, Australia’s Harry Bates endured a tough day. He copped a puncture in the penultimate stage of the day, which dropped him down the order.

In the overall WRC classification, Ott Tanak ended the day on top for Hyundai after a turbulent afternoon. The Estonian had been as low as fourth but rose to the lead on SS4. 

A storming effort by Sebastian Ogier put the Toyota driver to the top of the pile at the end of SS5, but a mistake in SS6 resulted in the Frenchman plucking his rear wing from his car.

Such was the reduction in downforce that Ogier subsequently recorded his worst stage time of the day, ending SS7 that followed down in seventh.

Tanak, meanwhile, topped the stage and leapt to the lead of the rally while Ogier fell to third, 6.7 seconds in arrears.

Elfyn Evans was the quiet achiever of the day in the other Toyota, ending up second and just 0.2s away from Tanak. 

Having been 18.2 seconds down at the end of SS5, points leader Kalle Rovanpera recovered to fourth and wound up just 7.2 seconds off the lead.

Gus Greensmith was fourth and the leading Ford entry after his teammate Craig Breen crashed out on SS3.

After 160km of running on Friday, the rally will take in six stages totalling 88km on Saturday while Sunday will take in just 31km.

The first and second run through Kaipara Hills will be broadcast live and ad-free on Stan Sport at 5am and 11am on Saturday.

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