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The white lie that helped van Gisbergen win the Supercars title

Shane van Gisbergen has revealed that a white lie about his health was critical to his dominant title run in Supercars this year.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Edge Photographics

The Kiwi made a near perfect start to the 2021 season way back in February with two wins at Mount Panorama, only to have his title hopes almost dashed by a mountain bike crash just a fortnight before Round 2 at Sandown.

He underwent surgery on a broken collarbone immediately before beginning a rapid recovery process that involved daily stints in a hyperbaric chamber.

After testing a BMW production car several days before the Sandown round he convinced the team he was fit enough to race.

Despite having to position the steering wheel lower than usual because of restricted movement he went on to win all three Supercars races that weekend – including the first from 17th on the grid.

Reflecting on that part of the season after wrapping up the title yesterday, van Gisbergen admitted that he fibbed about being ready to return to the Supercar after that BMW test.

He also said it was lucky that doctors only found three broken ribs from the crash after Sandown, as that would have almost certainly ruled him out.

“It was a pretty testy time,” said van Gisbergen.

“The shoulder will never be the same again. I’ve got a full-time fake ligament in there and that was probably the limiting thing.

“I think I tested a BMW the Tuesday of Sandown and told everyone I was – but I probably wasn’t – right to drive.

"I couldn’t lift my arm up high enough.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering

Photo by: Edge Photographics

“But that got better every day. [I was] probably lucky we didn’t find the ribs. I had a lot of pain but we didn’t find that. Because if I had known I had broken ribs I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to race.

"It kind of worked out well.

“That weekend was just something special and probably what set it all up and gave me big confidence.

“I started reading articles, people complaining about parity, and, ‘something’s not right there’ and stuff like that.

“We’ve obviously been doing that a couple of times the last couple of years towards Scotty [McLaughlin] – it’s the biggest compliment you can get when you’re on the other side of it.

“It was a pretty cool feeling after that weekend doing what we did to everyone. I wasn’t in a good way.

"I had the plate out after Townsville and I’m a lot better since then. But yeah, I’ll never be the same again.”

The Sandown success came as part of a remarkable winning streak for van Gisbergen that started at the 2020 Bathurst 1000 and also included the 2021 New Zealand Grand Prix and the Bathurst 6 Hour in the same BMW production car.

His run of Supercars success only ended seven races into the season – with as second place at Symmons Plains.

He's since increased his Supercars win tally to 14 this year, which helped him wrap up the 2021 crown with a round to spare.

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