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Skaife, Tander take van Gisbergen to task

SUPERCARS legends Mark Skaife and Garth Tander have called on Shane van Gisbergen to raise his game off the track after a tense post-race press conference in Newcastle.

Van Gisbergen bluntly declined to answer host Chad Neylon’s opening questions about the race, repeatedly saying merely that he lets his driving do the talking on the track.

The Kiwi was also notably only interviewed on the Fox Sports broadcast in parc ferme, not taking part in the traditional panel-based chat for race winners.

Speaking in the press conference, the Sunday Newcastle race winner did point to blowback from being open on Saturday about following closely in the Gen3 cars being more difficult than last year – which went against one of the much-stated key objectives of the new cars.

“I don’t know, like I tried to just knuckle down and focus and then I said a lot of stuff yesterday, tried to open up a bit more and then maybe it bit me in the arse,” said van Gisbergen.

“I just said the truth about the cars I guess, tried to be honest, and it goes down the wrong way. So I’ll focus on my driving.”

While Supercars says it has not censored van Gisbergen on Gen3, David Reynolds – sitting alongside van Gisbergen in the press conference – added context.

“They don’t want us to say anything negative,” said Reynolds, who had come in for criticism from Skaife prior to Newcastle for his comments about Gen3 parity.

“It’s a completely different change for the sport. We drove the same cars for 10 years and we loved those cars and for us this is just different.

“The reaction might not be the best reaction, but over time it might get better. We might get better at driving these cars and setting them up. It’s a long road.”

Nevertheless, Skaife and Tander expressed criticism of van Gisbergen’s approach to the media in the closing stages of the Fox Sports broadcast.

Mark Skaife and Broc Feeney. Pic: Ross Gibb

“When you’re the champion, 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 results and what has gone on today.

“Now whether he agrees, obviously he won’t be liking disqualification from yesterday.

“He has come into today angry about how it is but there is a duty of care, there is something about being the champion driver and the ambassador in the sport… he is extraordinary, maybe one of the best drivers ever, I’d call him Jim Richards-like, he is unbelievable.

“But you do off the track have a duty and that’s not right.”

Tander, SVG’s Bathurst 1000-winning co-driver in 2020 and ’22, said it was a matter of respect.

“We all respect the role that Shane does and the way that he drives the race car, you have got to have a bit of respect for the other people in the industry as well and how they’re going about their job,” said Tander, who made an off-season switch to Grove Racing.

“It’s Chad’s job to ask questions… so to not answer them like that, I think you probably need to show a bit more respect to those in the industry as well so it’s a bit disappointing to hear that sort of behaviour from Shane because he is better than that.

“I know him very, very well, he is better than that and he doesn’t need to do that sort of stuff.

“He is very articulate when he wants to be, he can get his point across when he needs to, so he probably doesn’t need to play those games.”

Jess Yates interviews Chaz Mostert. Pic: Ross Gibb

Respected broadcast host Jess Yates noted van Gisbergen’s behaviour has a broader impact.

“I feel sorry for the fans in that respect because they’re the ones who are thirsting to know,” she said.

“They want to be as close to the action as they can and quite frankly without them, Shane van Gisbergen doesn’t have the job that he has.

“So if you can’t engage with the fans… Chad didn’t ask him anything about the disqualification, it was all about what we had just seen on track.

“It’s really disappointing to think that Shane doesn’t want to engage with the media, all of the people who are building him up to be the champion that he is, but also our fans who missed out on that insight and analysis.”

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