Shane van Gisbergen has opened up in a telling interview with host of the Gypsy Tales podcast Jase Macalpine, where he discussed his 2023 season, his upcoming NASCAR move and offered insights on how he would improve the series.
The interview comes just weeks after the Kiwi Supercars great finished his Supercars career for the foreseeable future at the Adelaide 500, ahead of his 2024 US campaign.
“It’s been a pretty cool journey here for quite a few years, but the next part is going to be pretty exciting, too,” he said.
“It’s a huge change. It’s like I’m starting as a rookie again. I’m at the bottom again, but it’s a completely different discipline and type of racing. Doing the ovals and only a few road courses a year is like starting rallying like I did a couple of years ago or a whole different sport.
“There’s not much relative to what I do now, apart from a couple of times a year, where we turn right, so fully starting again, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I love learning new skills, racing different people at new tracks, and understanding how it all works.”
While van Gisbergen’s displeasure with the handling of the implementation of the Gen3 era was made clear over the season, the Red Bull driver admitted the ever-evolving nature of the series ensured there was always a challenge he was up for.
“Supercars never really got stale,” he says. “That’s the best thing about motorsport, it’s always evolving. You’ll have a perfect setup, and then the next year if you’ve got similar parts, your setup is completely different.. You’re always evolving, trying to get quicker and quicker.
“Even this year, with the change of cars, it never got boring here. It was always full of change and life. But this is an even bigger change next year and a massive challenge.
“It’s the best thing about motorsport, no matter what you’re doing, every series there’s always new challenges, new people to race, new teams and cars and stuff like that.”
Van Gisbergen featured on the podium in 34 per cent of the 508 Supercars races he started, with a win rate of 16 per cent. That meant the Kiwi finished on the podium on average every one of three starts and won one of every seven.
The Supercars grid will look considerably different without the three-time champion in 2024, with his departure causing a major silly-season shakeup that sees Will Brown depart Team’s Champion Erebus Motorsport to join Broc Feeney at Triple Eight.
Off-track, there are also considerable changes, with General Manager of Motorsport Adrian Burgess departing the role and joining Team 18. Former Tickford Team Principal Tim Edwards replaces Burgess in the role, which both van Gisbergen and Macalpine recognise as a positive move for the sport.
“There’s some big personnel and technical shakeups in Supercars next year, as there probably should be, but I just hope they listen to the drivers and really let the drivers have some input, but more importantly, the fans.
“Everything you read online or talk to people is going the opposite direction, some things, from what people want, so hopefully it gets better.
“I think Tim Edwards will be good. I think he’ll be a good person to level it out and implement some changes. It sort of looked like the last guys were a bit burnt out or gave up or didn’t take criticism very well, and hopefully, Tim’s good for the sport. I think he will be.”
When asked how he would improve the series, van Gisbergen responded with four ideas that he would implement to enhance the quality.
“The first thing I’d do is rebrand it. I’d rebrand it back to ‘V8 Supercars’,” he said.
“Then I’d do the wind tunnel testing for parity, which they’re doing.
“I’d put a different type of Dunlop on it. Dunlop has been a huge supporter of the series, and they’ve kept the costs down, but the tyres have fallen behind because of it.
“So, even if you had to spend a bit more money, you’d make a better tyre that could handle some heat, handle some pushing; then you’d just give people less of them to offset the cost of it. Or, just spend more money on tyres. They’re the most important part of the race car, and that would make the racing much better.
“Then I would probably get rid of all the fuel drop stuff. They brag about how the engines are so much closer than ever, so why do they put us in a box with the fuel drop?
“If you could change the start level or how much you had to put in, you would bring in fuel saving, trying to have different levels of pitstops, or amount of how many pitstops. I think that would make the racing much better.
“That’s probably the four biggest things, and those things instantly would make a good change, I think.”
Also talked about in the hour-long podcast is Van Gisbergen’s partnership with Richie Stanaway in the 2023 enduros, Broc Feeney’s future credentials and how his 2023 Bathurst 1000 victory almost came undone, in addition to a wide range of other topics.