Mistakes like Shane van Gisbergen’s in Sunday’s race at Symmons Plains could cost him the championship win.
That’s the word from former champs turned commentators Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall, when analysing the weekend’s racing for Inside Supercars.
Chaos erupted late in the 200km race in Tasmania after Cameron Waters’ Falcon dropped oil at the notorious hairpin, which saw leader and the weekend’s dominant driver van Gisbergen spear off and into the sand trap.
The quick Kiwi was stuck, passed by key rivals and ultimately earned a DNF instead of the victory he looked set to take.
It was unlucky to be caught out by another drivers’ issue – or was it?
Both Skaife and Ingall suggested van Gisbergen’s decision making in the high-pressure situation was poor, and could cost him dearly in the title race this year.
Waters had speared off with his mechanical issue, with Andre Heimgartner and Jamie Whincup immediately after him.
The leaders weren’t the first cars through the section of road – so why not be more cautious?
“That was a mistake by Shane,” Ingall said.
“Seventeen seconds difference between when all those cars went off to when you arrive at the corner – surely the alarm bells must’ve gone off to say something’s going on here.
“You’ve got three cars off, smoke everywhere, engine smoke, the whole deal and you still stay on the racing line? And still brake to maximum braking distance as well? I don’t know.
“SVG, I’m a big fan, but seriously that was a bad mistake.”
Lodged in the sand-trap, van Gisbergen not only gave away the win but 150 points. Instead of leading the championship and cementing himself as an early favourite, he sits seventh – 70 points off Will Davison, who won the race ahead of Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom.
“If you’re going to win championships you can’t give away those sorts of races,” Ingall said.
“And – let’s face it – we could get to the end of the year and that could decide the championship. And when you look at back you it you go, well, put that one in the hard drive, don’t do that one again.”
Skaife was on the same page and while he praised van Gisbergen’s driving ability, agreed the 26-year old’s lack of caution through the corner was costly.
“You can’t make mistakes like that and win the championship,” the five-time champ said.
“We love his vigour, we love the way he drives the car, you can’t doubt his speed. But on that particular day, when you drive down there, you’ve probably got some warning from the team, let’s hope… The yellow flags are out, cars off the road everywhere – it’s risk versus reward, you have to minimise the risk.
“If he had his time again, I’m sure he would slow it up more, turn it down early, give yourself the maximum road to get away with it – which is what Davison did.
“The same with Mark Winterbottom … whether or not he got told late [about the oil] he’d already seen van Gisbergen go off in front of him.”
The former drivers were critical of Winterbottom as well, but finishing third, the Bottle-O racer was not hugely disadvantaged.
Inside Supercars showed a grab with van Gisbergen and while his comments were brief, he did admit fault.
“Braked early to the inside, but the oil was all over and I mucked up, it was my fault – but that’s the way it is,” he said.