Motorsport: Van Gisbergen exit talk builds

Shane Van Gisbergen has refused to discuss his future in V8 Supercars. Photo / Getty Images
Shane Van Gisbergen has refused to discuss his future in V8 Supercars. Photo / Getty Images

Shane Van Gisbergen's website says he was "born to race". That might not now be the case amid rumours the Kiwi will quit V8 Supercars at the end of the season because he is disillusioned with the sport.

Or Van Gisbergen could be trying to jump ship to another team, with reports linking him to Ford Performance Racing.

The 23-year-old and Stone Brothers Racing team boss Ross Stone have refused to comment on speculation that is the talk of the pit lane for this weekend's penultimate round in Winton, north of Melbourne.

It comes just six months after he signed a new three-year deal with Stone Brothers - but that was before the team announced its switch from Ford to Mercedes-Benz for 2013.

"It's a pretty cool feeling to be able to keep all our relationships going," he said at the time. "I definitely think I can win a championship with SBR, that is the main reason I wanted to stay."

However, some reports suggest the change in manufacturer and management structure allows Van Gisbergen to activate a get-out clause in his contract and others have said he wants to spend more time at home, on Auckland's outskirts.

It could open up the possibility he will race in the V8 SuperTourers in New Zealand, in its inaugural season, but other reports talked about him becoming disillusioned with the sport after starting as a 17-year-old - and could be more likely to "dabble" in quad biking, karting and drifting.

However, another reason could be that he wants to stay with Ford. Ford Performance Racing, owned by forklift millionaire Charlie Schwerkholt, is expanding and needs a fourth driver.

News of Van Gisbergen's possible departure caught many unaware, including Kiwi motor ace Greg Murphy.

"It's quite bizarre and very interesting," Murphy told Newstalk ZB. "I haven't heard of anything like this but certainly it's one out of left-field."

Meanwhile, Jamie Whincup put himself on the cusp of a fourth V8 Supercar championship with victory in the opening race at Winton in Victoria. Holden driver Whincup beat team-mate Craig Lowndes and Ford driver Lee Holdsworth in the 47-lap event.

By finishing ahead of his only championship rival Winterbottom, who had a horror day, Whincup leads the season standings by 326 points. Whincup will wrap up this year's title if he leads by more than 300 points after today's race two at Winton.

Winterbottom slid from third to fourth as Holdsworth passed him on the final corner - Winterbottom's car running out of fuel late and only just crossing the finish line. He had started on pole position but lost out to Whincup at the start.

Then a first-lap safety car, after Jason Bright crashed out, led Winterbottom's FPR team to immediately call him into the pits to change to soft tyres. While the tyres were faster, Winterbottom lost several positions with the pit stop and struggled to get out of the mid-pack.

- APNZ, Paul Lewis, AAP

- APNZ

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