SHANE van Gisbergen and Red Bull Ampol Racing have sprung a surprise on outgoing team boss Roland Dane ahead of the Repco Bathurst 1000.
The usually #97 Commodore that the Kiwi will share with co-driver Garth Tander in the Great Race has been renumbered to Dane’s famed #888 for the weekend.
It was revealed to Dane as part of a special team meeting in the Red Bull Ampol garage at Bathurst this evening.
As revealed by V8 Sleuth last week, Triple Eight had been set to run without the #888 at Bathurst this year after the team elected to retain #88 for Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes.
It will mark the first time that van Gisbergen has raced with a number other than his beloved #97 since 2012, having shunned #1 for his favoured digits after winning the ‘16 title.
“Shane saw the story on V8 Sleuth that it wasn’t running, double-checked with me and said, ‘that’s disappointing, it’s fairly significant, is there anything we can do?’,” Jess Dane told V8 Sleuth.
“He didn’t really explain himself very well and a day or two later he called me and said, ‘I definitely want to do something with #888’, and then suggested that.
“It took a bit of coordinating behind the scenes, especially to keep it a secret because we had to change it over without RD seeing it.
“Then we revealed it to him in a team meeting at 6pm today.”
The team also presented Whincup with a special bonnet as part of the festivities, although that won’t feature on the race car, which has #CheersJDub on its rear wing.
A #CheersJDub bridge on Mountain Straight was used for a promotional shoot on Monday, although that branding was subsequently changed to that of event sponsor NTi.
“I think it’s a $500,000 sign, so we didn’t quite have enough money to leave it there for the weekend,” Whincup laughed on Monday.
“But no, I feel so grateful that the #CheersJDub is on the car. The lengths the team is going to to make it a special event for me, I’m proud as punch.”
Listen to the V8 Sleuth team wrap all the Tuesday action from trackside at Mount Panorama in the player below!