Shane van Gisbergen has been called out by Aussie motorsport greats Mark Skaife and Garth Tander over his 'disrespectful' actions in a post-race press conference on Sunday. Controversy erupted in the Supercars season opener on Saturday when van Gisbergen and teammate Broc Feeney were disqualified and stripped of their 1-2 finish after a protest over their cooling systems.
Motorsport Australia officials met after protests were lodged by Tickford Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United regarding the 'improper' cooling systems on van Gisbergen's car 97 and Feeney's car 88. The drivers were forced to compete in sweltering conditions in Newcastle on Saturday, with van Gisbergen apologising for his late arrival to the podium ceremony because he was "cooked".
The Triple Eight Racing drivers were later disqualified after it was found that their cooling systems didn't align with regulations. However van Gisbergen had the last laugh on Sunday, passing Chaz Mostert to secure his 76th career win.
However the controversy is showing no signs of slowing down, with van Gisbergen refusing to address the furore in Sunday's post-race press conference. The veteran driver gave a brief response to a question from journalist Chad Neylon, before waving his hand as if to say he wouldn't be answering any more.
"Shane, bouncing back, I imagine there was a bit of disappointment with the team today so did that make today’s race win even a little bit sweeter?" Neylon asked, to which van Gisbergen replied: "So basically just repeat what I said on track. Thanks to my team, our cars were awesome but all our talking was done on the track, so thank you."
Neylon responded: "Nah mate, it’s a press conference. We’ve got to ask you questions." Van Gisbergen then said "all the talking was done on track today, thank you," to which Neylon shot back: "Mate come on. Are you serious?"
Mark Skaife and Garth Tander criticise Shane van Gisbergen
Discussing the exchange on Fox Sports, Skaife and Tander were critical of van Gisbergen's behaviour. “For me that’s a bit of respect,” Tander said. “Chad Neylon always asks fair and balanced questions.
“You’ve got to have a little bit of respect for the other people within the industry as well and how they’re going about their job. It’s his job to ask questions in the press conference.
“To not answer them like that, probably need to show a bit more respect. It’s a bit disappointing to hear that sort of behaviour from Shane. He is better than that. He doesn’t need to do that sort of stuff.”
Skaife said van Gisbergen needed to be better given his standing in the sport. “We’ve been in some pretty tense press conferences over the years … but when you’re the champ, you have an ambassador’s role in this sport," he said. "Although you might not want to make any more comment, you actually have a duty as a custodian of the sport to say what you need to say about the result and what’s gone on today.
“He won’t be liking disqualification from yesterday. He’s come in today angry about how it is, but there is a duty of care. There is something about being the champion driver and the ambassador for the sport. If you’re a media person from anywhere in this country and you want a comment about Supercar racing, the first person you ask is Shane van Gisbergen.
“He has a duty. As one of the highest-paid, the absolute bloke who has been the benchmark operator. He is extraordinary, maybe one of the best drivers ever – I call him Jim Richards-like but you do off the track have a duty and that’s not right.
“You can have a villain … but what there is is a real distinction between being the bad guy and villain. You never heard an Allan Moffat or Russell Ingall not answer a question in a press conference. They might not have been as liked as Peter Brock who was the golden child of this stuff, but at any point there is a duty.”
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