Saturday Sleuthing: van Gisbergen's Falcon

  • 17/10/2015
  • By V8 Sleuth
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Inthe lead up to next weekend's Castrol Gold Coast 600 our Saturday Sleuthing focus shifts to a chassis that featured in one of the all-time great battles at the Surfers Paradise circuit.

Back in 2010 Shane van Gisbergen pitted his Stone Brothers Racing-run SP Tools Falcon head-to-head with Jamie Whincup's TeamVodafone Commodore for honours in the final race of the weekend.

The dice between the two in the closing laps is the sort of dice that will be remembered for a long time to come!

Noel Griffiths was there that day trackside and dropped our V8 Sleuth a line to find out what happened to van Gisbergen's FG Falcon.

"I have a memory of Shane changing cars once or twice during his time with Stone Brothers but I'd realty like to know what became of the car from that great stoush with Whincup," he writes.

"I was certain he was going to beat him but it was in that period where Jamie always seemed to find a way to still win."

The car in question was one of three new FG Falcons built by Stone Brothers Racing in 2009 and was debuted by van Gisbergen at the inaugural Dunlop Townsville 400 round of that year's championship.

He raced this chassis for the remainder of the year and was joined by Alex Davison for the enduros, where they ran a split IRWIN/SP Tools livery and finished 10th at Phillip Island and 13th at Bathurst.

van Gisbergen retained FG03 for the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship, taking nine podium finishes in it for the year, plus another at the non-championship Albert Park Grand Prix event.

Kiwi John McIntyre co-drove with van Gisbergen for all three enduros, including the epic weekend on the Gold Coast where they scored top points for the weekend and finished on the podium in both races.

Sunday's race saw 'SVG' locked in a titanic 25 lap dual with Whincup for the chequered flag. It was a tough but fair battle that saw Whincup set aside his championship aspirations in favour of the race win.

van Gisbergen, still striving for his first win in the category at that point, pushed Whincup hard, with both drivers straight-lining the first chicane on the final lap.

The Holden pilot was able to sneak home to win - you'd also have to bet that neither of them at that point could have guessed that five years on they would be announced as teammates for the 2016 season either!

Chassis FG03 stayed with van Gisbergen for the 2011 season and the Kiwi used it to break through for his first V8 Supercar win on home soil at the ITM 400 at Hamilton and then backed it up with a second at Hidden Valley in Darwin.

McIntyre again paired with Shane for the endurance races and they scored a fifth at Phillip Island and sixth at Bathurst, which remains van Gisbergen's best Mount Panorama V8 result.

Five-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Emanuele Pirro also made a cameo in the car, signed as the international co-driver for the unique Gold Coast 600 format of the time.

In 2012 the car was retained by SBR and its star Kiwi driver, who used it to win the final race of the non-championship event at the Melbourne Grand Prix.

This win was the only victory in the entire 2012 V8 Supercar season recorded by a non-Triple Eight or FPR driver.

van Gisbergen and Luke Youlden scored pole for the Sandown 500 in the return of the Melbourne enduro to the V8 calendar and they finished fifth before chat started swirling about van Gisbergen's future.

It would emerge later in the year that he wanted to leave the sport at the end of the season, so the tall Kiwi had his last race in FG03 at the Sydney Telstra 500.

In a bizarre farewell he was involved in a collision with the course Medical Car after experiencing problems of the start and slowing to the rear of the field!

Terry Wyhoon's Image Racing purchased FG03 to run in the 2013 Dunlop Series given the V8 Supercars Championship was moving to the new Car of the Future platform.

Taz Douglas drove it as the #10 Falcon with Arvo Beer backing and scored podiums at Barbagallo and Sydney, and he then returned to drive it for Image in 2014 with a runner-up result to Paul Dumbrell in round one in Adelaide.

He discontinued his DVS program after Winton and Jack Le Brocq took over the car, only for Douglas to return in Sydney when the former Formula Ford champion's funding ran dry.

The car has continued to race this year in the Dunlop Series with Image Racing running Jesse Dixon in Hayman Reese colours for the first five rounds before Grant Denyer stepped in at Bathurst last weekend and finished 13th in the 250-kilometre mini-enduro.

Saturday Sleuthing will take a break next weekend for the running of the CastrolGold Coast 600, where we hope to see another mega dice just like the one from 2010 involving van Gisbergen and Whincup!

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