Shane van Gisbergen's explosive swipe at 'worse than ever' Supercars

Two-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen may not be long for the series unless he sees some serious changes.

Shane van Gisbergen.
Shane van Gisbergen says Supercars dramatically needs to improve the series, labelling the 'worst its ever been'. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Reigning Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen has implored the series to improve its offering, labelling it 'worse than ever' as he reveals he is only confirmed to continue with Red Bull Racing until the end of the 2024 season. Despite agreeing to what was labelled a 'multi-year deal' back in April, the 33-year-old has since confirmed he's only locked in for this season and the next.

The three-time series champion has options to extend his deal with the team beyond 2024, but the New Zealander has indicated a serious interest in pursuing other options - such as rallying and Speedway series racing in the United States. Van Gisbergen is taking part in four rounds of the Rally New Zealand series this year, an indication that a move away from Supercars could be a high priority.

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The introduction of the new 'Gen3' Supercars for this season has been a pain point not just for Van Gisbergen but several other teams, as the category battles to work out kinks in the new cars which were initially meant to bring the overall cost of competition down for teams. The Gen3 machines introduced the Chevrolet Camaro as a replacement for the new defunct Holden Commodore, with Ford Mustangs also still in use, albeit in a somewhat different guise than in previous seasons.

Van Gisbergen indicated in an interview with Fox Sports that his decision to stay in Supercars until the end of 2024 was principally guided by his fondness for the Triple Eight outfit he has raced for since 2016. He made his debut in the category for Team Kiwi in 2007, becoming the 200th Supercars driver in the process.

He said the drivers had less impact on car setup and performance than in prior seasons, despite embracing the challenge of the new machinery. He was most critical however, of the off-track operations - again lambasting the series for removing New Zealand from the category altogether and criticising them over races that were held in other overseas venues over the years where Supercars has little to no fanbase.

"It's weird because the series is worse than ever, all the background stuff, it's really bad," he said. "But the team is awesome. I loved the challenge this year of the car.

"The car is difficult, but as a driver you have to think, it's the same for everyone ... as a driver you feel like you have less influence."

Shane van Gisbergen blasts Supercars over New Zealand absence

The closure of the Pukekohe circuit in 2023 affected Supercars' plans to continue racing in New Zealand in 2023, however the category has publicly stated a desire to return as early as 2024. However that may not be soon enough for Van Gisbergen, who chided the series for hosting rounds in venues such as Singapore and Bahrain in previous years - all ventures which he believes did nothing for genuine fans.

"Going overseas to Singapore and Middle East, what's the point?" he said. "We have new cars which are awesome and we should be going to places like Winton and QR (Queensland Raceway); take it to the people and make them fall in love with the sport again."

Van Gisbergen has already taken Supercars to task over their New Zealand absence once this year, labelling it 'stupid' that the category hadn't found a suitable alternative to Pukekohe once it was clear the circuit would be shuttered. The circuit was farewelled in style late last year, with van Gisbergen claiming the final race win at the venue.

“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 poses after winning the first race at the Perth Supersprint.
Shane van Gisbergen won race one at the Perth Supersprint last weekend, keeping a hold on third place in the championship standings. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

It's been a somewhat rocky start to the season for the reigning champion, after he was disqualified from the opening race of the season for a technical infringement relating to Triple Eight's improvised cabin cooling system. Several drivers had complained about excessive heat in round one, with Van Gisbergen disqualified after stewards deemed the changes made to the Red Bull car's system to be outside the scope of technical regulations.

That decision prompted a testy Van Gisbergen to more or less refuse to answer questions in a subsequent press conference after winning the second race of the weekend, repeatedly stating that he and the team preferred to 'do out talking on the track'. The Kiwi champion was subsequently criticised by series legend Mark Skaife.

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