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Van Gisbergen’s other farewell race car

TWENTY-FIVE years since the earliest examples started rolling off the production line at Broadmeadows, the AU Falcon is enjoying some kind of renaissance.

First it was Tickford Racing’s quartet of Supercars stars buying, modifying and doing battle aboard the once-maligned beasts in the name of YouTube views and laughs.

And then, a week before his Supercars farewell on the streets of Adelaide, none other than Shane van Gisbergen was behind the wheel of one of the mighty Fords.

It was the three-time Supercars champion’s weapon of choice for his annual derby day in New Zealand, where SVG takes his ‘race anything’ motto to the extreme alongside a crew of mates.

The high-quality field in a high-quality field. Pic: Instagram

As part of the event’s automotive fancy-dress theme, van Gisbergen’s AU was resplendent in the iconic Pirtek colours worn by Marcos Ambrose at Stone Brothers Racing in the early 2000s.

Van Gisbergen, of course, began his V8 career with SBR in the years after Ambrose left the team, and is now following in the Tasmanian’s footsteps by moving to NASCAR in the United States.

Don’t mistake all that for sentimentality, though.

“It was the only car we could find,” van Gisbergen told V8 Sleuth, adding the #4 and corresponding colour scheme was chosen because it was the fourth edition of the paddock-bashing bonanza.

“We got a car the week before the race. I’ve done a Winfield Nissan Maxima and Jagermeister BMW (in previous years), I’ve done a whole bunch.

“It’s just a bunch of mates, you get a car, there’s not too many rules, but the car has got to stay there afterwards, so you get a bomb.”

The AU Falcon enjoyed limited success in V8 Supercar racing during its time as Ford’s frontline fighter from 1999-2002 due largely to a lack of front downforce.

As the images attest, van Gisbergen’s recreation also promised a delightfully rearward aero balance, its final trim the result of a trip to Triple Eight, but certainly not wind tunnel certified.

“I found an old Supercar wing, it was the old drift car wing with the dual-plane, that’d been upstairs for eight years or something, and some wrecked ZB endplates as well,” he explained.

“I put it on the car and went racing.”

There was also the small matter of stripping 300kg of weight from the beast before the battle commenced.

So, to the important question – how did it go?

Van Gisbergen’s AU covered in nature’s confetti. Pic: Instagram

“It was a bit of a mud-bath but a lot of fun,” van Gisbergen concluded, having slid his way to second place and declared racing the true winner on the day.

“We had 28 cars or something. We put a full timing loop in, it was live on Mylaps, like a full race meeting in shit cars.

“It’s a hard race to win!”

Others to take part in this year’s derby included Matt Payne and Ryan Wood, who subsequently cleaned up in Supercars and Super2 at the following week’s Adelaide 500 respectively.

While the derby has been an annual event, this year it doubled as a Kiwi farewell for van Gisbergen ahead of his relocation to the US.

A Bathurst 2014 piss-take, a broken Peugeot and a confused Matt Payne. Pic: Instagram

Van Gisbergen will have a hugely busy 2024 as he races in multiple NASCAR tiers as part of a development deal put together by Trackhouse Racing.

Although there is no racing scheduled for SVG until the New Year, there will be plenty to do – and learn – over the coming months.

MORE: SVG’s take on Kostecki’s NASCAR future

“I’ll pack up (in Queensland) and have the team Christmas party here and stuff and spend time with the guys, thank them and try and move over to America,” he said of his plans.

“It’s pretty quiet there over December, January, but just learn, be part of the team, go through all the meetings, start preparing and understanding what I’m in for.”

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