WHEN SVG DROVE AMBROSE’S DUAL TITLE-WINNER

van Gisbergen tested SBR BA02 on a couple of occasions during 2007. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

SBR BA02 is best known as the car Marcos Ambrose used to take back-to-back V8 Supercars titles in 2003 and 2004, a Ford Falcon BA that accumulated 25 championship race wins across its three seasons with the Tasmanian at the wheel.

Ross and Jimmy Stone, the spearheads behind Stone Brothers Racing, have recently completed a full restoration on the car, returning it to its 2004 livery and representing a year where their team clinched a 1-2 championship finish.

As pivotal as the car was to SBR’s glory days, the car also played a key role in the career of one of today’s Supercars stars.

SBR BA02 was the first V8 Supercar that Shane van Gisbergen drove as the Stone brothers evaluated the then-17-year-old Kiwi’s potential.

He’d first popped up on their radar a year prior when SVG clinched the New Zealand Formula Ford title during the V8 Supercars’ annual visit to Pukekohe.

Before the year was out van Gisbergen turned his first laps in a Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon at Queensland Raceway.

van Gisbergen arrived in Supercars off the back of two successful seasons racing open-wheelers in New Zealand; after winning the Formula Ford title, he finished runner-up in the 06/07 Toyota Racing Series. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

A couple more tests followed in 2007, all three tests coming aboard the car that SBR was using to run future Bathurst 1000-winner and TEKNO Autosports/Team Sydney chief Jonathon Webb in that year’s Fujitsu Series – the same SBR BA02 chassis raced so successfully by Ambrose.

“The V8 is totally different to every other car I’ve driven,” van Gisbergen told New Zealand SpeedSport at the time.

“You definitely can’t throw them round or drive them too fast. That’s one of the things that Nathan (Leech), the guy who’s helping out with the data and driving side of it, he had to keep on telling me to do that. With every single-seater driver it’s the same.

“It’s got plenty of horsepower and that’s another thing, getting used to the throttle control. After five laps the tyres’ performance just declines. It’s good, it’s another thing for me to learn.

“I’d hate to think what driving one of the things in the rain is like.”

He’d find out a couple of months later.

van Gisbergen made his championship debut in a TKR-entered Stone Brothers Racing Falcon at Oran Park in 2007. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

A deal was done for Stone Brothers Racing to supply and run a car for Team Kiwi Racing with van Gisbergen as its pilot, starting with the Oran Park round.

It’s history now that SVG turned in a mightily impressive rookie performance, setting the fifth-fastest lap of the wet second race on his way to a charging 13th place finish.

At year’s end SBR signed him to replace the departing Russell Ingall to drive their #9 entry, launching a decorated ‘main game’ career that sees van Gisbergen poised to make his 400th Supercars Championship start in the opening race of the Darwin Triple Crown.

Along with winning the 2016 Supercars Championship, the Pirtek Enduro Cup, the Adelaide 500 on three occasions and a pair of Jason Richards Memorial Trophies, van Gisbergen has also established himself as one of the top GT drivers to come out of the Tasman region.

His victory in the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour alongside Webb and Alvaro Parente is featured in the upcoming limited-edition collector’s book Bathurst: Going Global, celebrating the GT era of the race over the last 10 years.

There’s a photo of every car to start or attempt to qualify for the Bathurst 12 Hour from 2011 to 2020, plus race review chapters and full results from each year’s race.

It’s available to pre-order now here via the V8 Sleuth Online Bookshop.

Will Dale began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport for the next six years, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.