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When van Gisbergen drove Ambrose’s Falcon

SBR BA02 is best known as the car Marcos Ambrose used to take back-to-back V8 Supercars titles in 2003 and 2004.

The famous Falcon accumulated 25 championship race wins across its three seasons with the Tasmanian at the wheel, making it the most successful Ford in Supercar history.

But the car, which Ross and Jimmy Stone recently restored to its 2004 glory and sold to a private Sydney buyer also played a key role in the career of one of today’s Supercars stars.

Listen to the episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast devoted to the racing life of chassis SBR BA02

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.

SVG first popped up on SBR’s radar in 2006 when he clinched the New Zealand Formula Ford title during the V8 Supercars Championship’s 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 behind the wheel. 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.

Van Gisbergen tested the Falcon on multiple occasions. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

“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 and Ross Stone at Queensland Raceway. 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 career as a Supercars driver.

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