Van Gisbergen: Title defence over

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/09/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Shane van Gisbergen says his Virgin Australia Supercars Championship defence is over after a horror weekend at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

The Red Bull Holden star dropped from 258 to 414 points behind leader Scott McLaughlin after a 16th-place finish on Sunday, with 1200 still up for grabs across the remaining four events.

Van Gisbergen and co-driver Matt Campbell had recovered from a 21st-place grid slot to run third with just 20 laps to go before suffering a right-front tyre failure.

It was the latest blow in a weekend that included a clash with Fabian Coulthard in practice, and subsequent grid penalty, a lowly 16th-fastest qualifying effort and a spin for Campbell in his qualifying race after a tap from Taz Douglas.

“It obviously puts us out of it,” van Gisbergen told Supercars.com when asked of his championship prospects in light of his Sandown shocker.

“We needed to have a good day to have any chance in the [PIRTEK] Endurance Cup and then we’d see about the championship.

“Now it’s just about race wins, having some fun and making the car better for next year.”

Van Gisbergen’s title defence had started in stunning fashion with back-to-back wins at the Adelaide 500, but a series of issues have hampered him since.

They have included tyre failures at Phillip Island, Hidden Valley and Sandown, as well as a costly clash with McLaughlin at Sydney Motorsport Park last month.

His Red Bull team’s engineering group took responsibility for Sunday’s issues.

“It’s disappointing for everyone seeing all the tyres popping and crashes up the top there for the fifth year in a row and there’s still nothing done about it,” he said.

“It’s a shame, but we’ll regroup. We had awesome pace, a lot of fun in the first half of the race, Matty did a great job, his pace was stellar. We’re looking forward to the next one.”

Van Gisbergen will next month be chasing his first Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 victory having finished a narrow second in 2016.

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