As legend has it, Shane van Gisbergen is unbeatable on four wheels until it comes to the infamous dirt track driveway at his family home in Auckland. Here, it’s van Gisbergen Senior, Robert, who has long reigned supreme.
It had been close to a decade since father and son went head to head in a time trial of any description, so what better challenge to lay down than an outright sprint to the flag?
Given Robert’s unbeaten track record, the playing field needed to be levelled. Enter the Red Bull Holden Racing Team V8 supercar – Shane’s regular office, but a completely new beast for his dad.
As the pair took to Norwell Motorplex, it was a case of the son showing the father the ropes, although Shane probably wished he hadn’t been such a thorough teacher once he saw how quickly Robert, an all-round talented racer himself throughout his life, got to grips with the no. 97 Commodore.
Once the lap times were set, it was on to New Zealand and a brand new vehicle for them both in the Holden Barina rally car, a turbocharged, all-wheel drive rocket campaigned in the NZ Rally Championship.
Set in the hills of Auckland on the family’s farm, the track is surrounded by thick lines of fir trees with gateposts, rocks and the occasional horse cropping up throughout. In other words, it is not a place at which even the most talented driver can risk missing a beat.
While both Robert and Shane insisted that driving is all about the fun factor, their competitive streaks shone through as they battled to not only retain their crowns of their own disciplines, but also become masters of the other’s forte and claim the all-important overall win.