V8 Supercar driver Shane Van Gisbergen.ADELAIDE V8 Supercars turncoat Shane Van Gisbergen could face a legal bid to stop him racing in this weekend’s season-opening Adelaide 500.
Speculation is rife that Van Gisbergen’s former team is planning to launch a race-eve court challenge to his switch to a rival squad, claiming his move contravenes the terms of his release.
For at least the past two weeks, Van Gisbergen and his new team have been bracing for an injunction seeking to enforce a one-year non-compete clause.
The 23-year-old New Zealander quit V8 racing at the end of last season, citing burnout and personal issues, and was released from his renewed three-year contract with Stone Brothers Racing.
But just weeks after his release, a condition of which was that he could not race for another V8 team until 2014 if he decided to return, Van Gisbergen signed with the family owned Tekno Autosports Holden team.
His about-face angered fans and prompted his former team boss Ross Stone to publicly criticise him, declaring: ”SBR is considering its legal position and whether it is worthwhile holding [Van Gisbergen] to his promises.”
SBR has since become Erebus Motorsport under the ownership of wealthy property developer Betty Klimenko, who has switched the team from Ford Falcons to new Mercedes-Benz AMGs.
Klimenko is known to be furious with Van Gisbergen over his defection and there has been widespread conjecture in V8 Supercars that she is determined to enforce the one-year sabbatical he was granted even if it means a bitter legal battle.
Erebus Motorsport chief executive Ryan Madison declined to confirm or deny that the team was planning to serve an injunction on Van Gisbergen before practice for the Adelaide 500 begins on Friday.
”I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” Madison said.
However, he confirmed Erebus supported the dismay expressed by former team owner Stone – who has remained in a senior management position – over Van Gisbergen’s U-turn.
”We’re not happy about how he has conducted himself,” Madison said. ”We don’t think it’s good for the sport. We share Ross’ disillusionment, absolutely.”
Tekno Autosports driver/co-owner Jonathon Webb would not comment on whether his team expected Van Gisbergen’s position to be legally challenged. ”I’m not in a position to say anything,” he said. ”It’s a touchy situation.”
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