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Supercars Newcastle

Why van Gisbergen shut down media questions

Concerns over being critical of the Gen3 platform appear to have driven Shane van Gisbergen's bizarre media shutdown after winning the second Supercars race in Newcastle.

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The Race 2 winner all but refused to engage with press in the post-race media conference, continually reeling off the same line – "Thanks to my team, our cars were awesome. All our talking was done on track. Thank you" – when fielding questions.

He later expanded on the matter slightly, hinting at external pressure to not criticise the Gen3 platform and explicitly confirmed he had been warned for previous comments.

"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," he said.

"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."

The shutdown followed a third straight appearance in the end-of-day press conference for van Gisbergen, who on Friday called for better heat protection in the new cars.

He then used the platform to suggest issues with overheating tyres hadn't been solved by the new rules on Saturday. 

David Reynolds, who was vocal about parity concerns in the lead-up to Newcastle, sympathised with van Gisbergen and his sudden reluctance to speak up on matters. 

It's thought Reynolds' comments were unpopular with some senior Supercars figures. 

"They don't want us to say anything negative," he said. "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."

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Photo by: Edge Photographics

Van Gisbergen's media conference antics wound up on the Fox Sports broadcast, although the clip was limited to his staged response and didn't include the explanation that followed.

That robbed van Gisbergen's actions of critical context as the hosting team worked on the assumption that it was a response to van Gisbergen and Triple Eight being disqualified from Saturday's race.

“We have been in some pretty tense press conferences over the years where blokes have been fired into the fence and stuff has gone on, and that’s part of the history and the rivalry and the authenticity of what we do," said Fox Sports host and commentator – and Supercars Board member – Mark Skaife on the broadcast.

"But when you’re the champion, you have an ambassador’s role in this sport and 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.

"If you’re a media person from anywhere in this country and you want a comment about Supercars racing, the first person you ask is Shane van Gisbergen.

"He has a duty under that scenario as one of the highest paid, the absolute bloke who has been the benchmark operator. There is no one in this industry that in any way, shape or form would ever contend on his driving talent and his ability.

"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."

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