Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen has signed a new contract to stay with Triple Eight racing on a multi-year deal - but has chided the category over a major decision he labelled 'stupid'. Van Gisbergen had stated he was going to put off a contract extension until he got a feel for the newly introduced Gen3 Supercars, but put an end to months of speculation on Friday.
After last year breaking Scott McLaughlin's record for the most race wins in a single season, van Gisbergen has now locked himself in as a championship contender for seasons to come. Despite some teething problems with the Gen3 cars, the 33-year-old said he was embracing the challenge of the new generation of racers.
However he remains unsatisfied about one aspect of the Supercars season - the lack of a round in New Zealand, after the Pukekohe circuit was shuttered this year. The circuit was farewelled in style late last year, with van Gisbergen claiming the final race win at the venue.
Speaking from New Zealand, where he is preparing to take part in the NZ Rally Championship round in May, van Gisbergen said Supercars needed to make crossing the Tasman once again a priority.
“Supercars need to sort itself out and get us back to New Zealand. I think it’s the stupidest decision that we’re not here,” he said. “As we saw at Pukekohe last year, there’s so many awesome fans in New Zealand and the sort is still so big here.
"We need to get back here in a big way, and I would love to race back home some more, so let’s make that happen.
“I think there’s three of us Kiwis (in Supercars) now and the support that we get is amazing. We certainly miss (racing at home) but I also think the series loved coming here – it was one of the better events on the calendar, so hopefully it can happen. We have to keep pushing for it.”
— Shane van Gisbergen (@shanevg97) April 21, 2023
After memorably being disqualified in the first race of the 2023 Supercars season, van Gisbergen currently sits third in the championship standings. With renewed motivation to ensure Triple Eight and Red Bull Racing remain at the top of the Supercars standings after winning four team championships since 2016, the three-time champion is determined to add to his legacy in the category.
Shane van Gisbergen counts on Jamie Whincup in Supercars future
After joining the team as a teammate to now team boss Jamie Whincup, van Gisbergen said it had been a challenging, but rewarding few years as the team adjusted to Whincup's racing retirement and new role with the team.
“I just love being part of this team and especially the past couple of years with how we’ve gone, the people I’ve gotten to work with and what we have achieved,” he said. “This year with the car change adds even more challenges.
“It’s cool pushing along, learning things with a group of people and a solid team around you, trying to make things better. Those challenges of our sport – it’s always evolving – and to me, that’s what I enjoy.”
He also revealed Whincup had been a key figure in his decision to stay in Supercars, with his now boss' experience as a fellow multi-time series champion key in maintaining his motivation.
“He’s been through all this stuff before and for someone like him, who has won six or seven championships, how he kept himself motivated and kept focused, I do lean on him for advice in those situations and our contract chat was more about that stuff than the contract itself,” van Gisbergen said.
“It’s pretty cool that we can have that relationship after being teammates for years and even though he’s now my boss, he’s still happy to be a friend as well.”
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