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Van Gisbergen seals Supercars future

A MASSIVE question mark over the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship driver market has been answered, with Shane van Gisbergen committing to a new Triple Eight deal.

The contract extension has been announced as “multi-year”, which should take van Gisbergen to at least a full decade with Triple Eight having joined at the start of 2016.

It also marks confirmation that the Jamie Whincup-led team will carry an unchanged driver line-up forward, with Broc Feeney already locked in for 2024 as part of his first main game deal.

The van Gisbergen element is particularly notable though given the Kiwi had openly spoken of his willingness to walk away from Supercars if Gen3 did not live up to his expectations.

A rocky start has eventuated for the Gen3 platform but van Gisbergen has nevertheless re-signed, citing his crew’s bounceback from an Albert Park crash as having solidified his decision to stay.

“Extending with Red Bull Ampol Racing was a no-brainer for me,” he said.

“It’s certainly exciting to continue with the best team in pitlane and I’m stoked to be able to stay.

“I’ve never been happier at this team.

Shane van Gisbergen. Pic: Supplied

“The coolest moment for me, and one that really solidified my decision was the team repairing my car after I had that shunt at the Australian Grand Prix – everyone stuck in to help each other to get #97 fixed.

“Even though we missed the next practice session, to come out and put the car on pole in qualifying was amazing. Seeing how much that meant to everyone was a special moment, and to then win that race was unreal.

“It’s such a fantastic team environment at the moment, and we have a great crew that I love working with.”

Invigorating by a fresh set of challenges, van Gisbergen voiced his excitement for the future.

“The best thing about our sport is that it’s always evolving,” he said.

“All these challenges we’ve had with the new cars will hopefully work themselves out as we keep updating the cars over the next few events – there’s always something to learn and always things to keep getting better at.

“It’s those challenges that keep it fresh, and working with this team to understand those challenges and make the cars better is what I really enjoy.”

Team principal Whincup hailed the development: “It’s always great news when you have the best driver in the country deciding to put his faith in the team at Triple Eight Race Engineering to give him a fast, reliable race car to showcase his skills.

“It’s a huge honour that Shane has chosen us to continue that relationship.

“We will of course continue to invest in him, his support crew, engineering and mechanics, to give him the best equipment to remain competitive in the sport.

“We as a team need the best drivers in the country to showcase our skills.

“At the end of the day, we’re an engineering company and we pride ourselves on building the best race cars and componentry and representing ourselves in the highest regard.

Van Gisbergen’s #97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro. Pic: Supplied/Mark Horsburgh

“One of those factors is that we need someone to get behind the wheel and showcase that work we do and represent the brand and our partners in the highest possible light, and we believe Shane is the best person for that.

“We pride ourselves at Triple Eight to keep making gains and keep improving as a team – we certainly aren’t box-tickers.

“As a group, we’ve all been working flat out behind the scenes to ensure that we keep the trajectory that we’ve built over the past 15 years, and in some regard Shane’s extension endorses that work – if the best driver in the country wants to continue in this place, then it shows that we’re doing a good job.”

Since the start of 2006, Triple Eight has employed just four full-time drivers – Whincup, van Gisbergen, Feeney and Craig Lowndes – in an unparalleled level of continuity.

“The highest priority for me is having drivers that put everything on the line and showcase their extreme skill,” Whincup continued.

“Everyone that buys a ticket to a Supercars event or watches it on television wants to see drivers who put their bodies on the line and take risks to do extraordinary things, and that’s exactly what SVG does.

“You always have to respect the athletes in the arena, or on the field, or on the track – the ones out there giving their all. The day you don’t respect that is the day that you don’t respect sport.

“That’s what we respect him for – giving his absolute all, week in and week out.”

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