Van Gisbergen turns first Le Mans laps

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 06/06/2022
  • By James Pavey, Pics by Nikolaz Godet

Shane van Gisbergen has finally cut his first laps at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Supercars points leader is currently in France for this year’s 90th running of the event.

All 62 cars had their first taste of the 13.6km circuit as the Official Test Day got underway at La Sarthe overnight.

On track was van Gisbergen, who will race a Riley Motorsports Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

The two-time Supercars champion is sharing the car with Briton Sam Bird and Brazilian Felipe Fraga.

Van Gisbergen has contested several high-profile endurances races, including Bathurst, Spa-Francorchamps and Daytona.

His Le Mans 24 Hours debut will come in his first event aboard a GTE car.

He was signed to race a Eurasia Motorsport LMP2 entry in 2020 before the deal was undone by COVID-19.

Previous Le Mans bids were ruled out due to clashes with Darwin’s Supercars round.

Van Gisbergen clocked 12 laps in Sunday's first session, and 11 in the second.

His 3:55.940s best in the first session was just half a second off his co-driver’s best.

He returned in the afternoon session and clocked a best of 3:55.484s; Bird recorded a 3:54.437s, and Fraga a 3:55.150.

The #74 Riley Ferrari was fourth of the LM GTE Pro runners in FP1, and fifth in the second session.

The car was 37th overall at day’s end.

The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 HYBRID ended the two sessions of running atop the time sheets.

All three Hypercar entries of Toyota, Glickenhaus and Alpine took turns at the top of the class and overall standings.

The #64 Corvette led the GTE Pro morning running on a 3:54.314s, before it improved to a 3:54.001s in the afternoon.

Bird’s afternoon flyer helped the #74 Ferrari to fifth in class, just 0.436s off the pace.

Le Mans isn’t van Gisbergen’s first extra-curricular running of 2022 beyond his Supercars commitments.

Earlier this year, he drove an R5-spec Skoda to a shock podium on his Australian Rally Championship debut.

He is no stranger to GT racing; he recently raced a Triple Eight-run Mercedes-AMG to third at the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour.

The 33-year-old also won the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour in a McLaren, and later won the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.

Speaking after Winton, van Gisbergen knew he was in for a challenge.

"It’s an awesome opportunity and something I’m pretty thankful for," van Gisbergen said.

"I’ve got two good teammates in Sam Bird and Felipe Fraga.

"I can’t wait to experience it; I’ve never driven a GTE car, never driven a Ferrari, never been to Le Mans.

"For sure, I’ll study as much as I can, there’s a lot of onboards and stuff.

"The hardest thing is going to be [racing around] the prototypes, looking out the back window more than the front.

"When we do the 12 Hour, we’re the fastest car looking out the front."

The 2022 season will resume in Darwin on June 17-19. Purchase your tickets now.

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