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Van Gisbergen’s delight for Stanaway, Wood

FOR the second time in a matter of years, a Kiwi superstar is headed for the United States – but Shane van Gisbergen is excited by just how bright New Zealand’s Supercars future is.

Van Gisbergen’s 2024 Trackhouse Racing NASCAR deal was officially announced yesterday, with this weekend’s Sandown 500 his fourth-last event as a Supercars full-timer.

Of course, it was just three years ago that compatriot and fellow three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin similarly took up the opportunity for a career in IndyCar.

But the seemingly bottomless NZ Supercars pipeline continues to deliver, with four Kiwis confirmed for the 2024 grid.

Andre Heimgartner (Brad Jones Racing) and Matt Payne (Grove Racing) will be back, while Richie Stanaway and Ryan Wood join the field via Grove and Walkinshaw Andretti United, respectively.

Van Gisbergen is genuinely thrilled about Stanaway’s re-emergence, having been a long-time ally of the enigmatic ace who spent years in the wilderness after retiring on his 28th birthday.

Richie Stanaway. Pic: Ross Gibb

In fact, the two are paired together at Triple Eight for the 2023 Supercars endurance season, which starts today at Sandown.

“The way he is this year, you can tell he really wants to be racing,” van Gisbergen told V8 Sleuth.

“You put that guy in a good environment and he’ll thrive. Obviously it wasn’t that good where he was the last few years he was in full-time racing and even before he came back to Australia and it just wore him down.

“Sometimes that’s what you need, is a break or a change… you can just tell how enthused he is and how happy he is to be racing.

“I have some friends at Grove with (David) Cauchi and Shippy (Grant McPherson) – they rung me and spoke to me about Richie and what he’s like and if he would be a good fit for their team.

“Knowing those guys and how they go racing, how much they enjoy it but also how passionate they are, that team looks like it would be a great fit for Richie.

MORE: Tander itching to finally join forces with Stanaway

“I’m excited for him to get a shot next year and be back in the series full-time and hopefully enjoy himself but then start getting some good results too.”

Wood, 19, meanwhile is a personal friend of van Gisbergen’s.

Ryan Wood. Pic: Supplied

“He has only done a couple of development series rounds and already he has been chosen for a main game seat. That’s how good he is and how much potential he has,” said SVG.

MORE: WAU teen talks Supercars graduation

“When I do the driver training with him at Norwell and stuff like that, he’s one of the most talented drivers I’ve been with.

“His potential is huge and he is such a cool personality, but going fast in a race car is going to be what he is good at.

“If everything works out well for him and he puts it all together, he can be a big star in the sport.”

On top of having four full-time drivers, New Zealand will return to hosting a Supercars round in 2024 when Taupo Motorsport Park makes it championship debut. That is likely to fall in April.

VIDEO: Supercars lap of Taupo Motorsport Park

V8 Sleuth’s coverage of the 2023 Penrite Oil Sandown 500 is proudly presented by Biante – Fuel your passion with winning model cars. Visit Biante here to check out their range of model cars in a range of scales from 1:64 to 1:10.

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