Hawke’s Bay will have to wait for its next chance to see New Zealand motor racing star Shane van Gisbergen, who this week became the first driver to win their debut US Nascar race in 60 years.
The three-time Australia Supercars champion was to have included Rally Hawke’s Bay in a bid for the 2023 New Zealand Rally Championship, but, originally scheduled for July 22, the rally was cancelled because of the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. The February cyclone wrecked dozens of bridges throughout Hawke’s Bay and saw the widespread closure of highways and other roads.
For the same reasons, the Coromandel leg of the series was also cancelled, as was a Targa rally that was to have been held in Hawke’s Bay in May.
Van Gisbergen, from Auckland and known to fans as SVG, twice raced in the region in the last 12 months - in the rally last year and six months ago in sprint car racing at Meeanee Speedway.
The rally was also expected to attract such drivers as reigning New Zealand rally champion (and former Hawke’s Bay winner) Hayden Paddon and 2022 Rally Hawke’s Bay winner Ben Hunt.
Doug Laing is a senior reporter based in Napier with Hawke’s Bay Today and has 50 years of journalism experience in news gathering, including breaking news, sports, local events, issues and personalities.
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