It’s been 17 years since 18-year-old Shane van Gisbergen first got behind the wheel of TKR’s V8 Falcon Supercar at Oran Park Raceway in New South Wales, a 20th-place finish anything but an indication of the success that was to come his way in the years that have followed.
Sixteen full seasons of racing have followed, totalling an incredible 508 starts and 176 podiums, including 81 victories, 48 pole positions, three Bathurst 1000 wins and three Supercars titles.
Entering the Adelaide 500 with the title on the line set the scene for the opportunity for a perfect send-off.
While it wasn’t the fairy tale ending many had hoped for, van Gisbergen didn’t leave empty-handed, his final piece of silverware in the series coming in the form of the Fans Choice Award for the Most Popular Driver, which was presented to him on the grid ahead of his final race in Adelaide.
“It was amazing to again get the fan choice award for the most popular driver,” he said. “I never know what to say when I get awards like that, as it’s always a surprise to me.
“I had some great words of support from people before I raced and at our signing sessions this week which has been an amazing feeling to feel appreciated like that. I struggle to show it back to them, but we had a pretty awesome time with some cool support.”
It’s the third time van Gisbergen has won the award, having claimed it in 2021 and then again in 2022.
Van Gisbergen failed to finish in his final two races, his first consecutive DNFs since the final round of 2012 in Sydney.
Despite one Red Bull not having any luck, Broc Feeney ensured the team achieved a podium at the event, finishing as runner-up in Race 2 behind maiden race winner Kiwi Matthew Payne.
“Congratulations to Broc and the team on a great result today,” van Gisbergen said following the race. “It would have been good to have joined him on the podium as I thought our car was going good, but unfortunately, we have some sort of issue that we couldn’t fix.”
“Congratulations again to Brodie (Kostecki) as well. He’s been the fastest guy all year and the team made no mistakes, so they deserved to have both championships. We tried our hardest, but we couldn’t get it done.
“I’ve had an amazing time with the team at Triple Eight, so thanks to them for a great few years – I had a blast, and I’m sure I’ll be back one day.”
Feeney added, “I want to say congratulations to Matt (Payne) and his team. I’m stoked that another young kid has won, and it just shows that people should give the young guys a go. I think it’s awesome for the sport to see him up on the top step.
“I was hoping I was going to go back-to-back and was driving my ass off out there, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace that those cars had today but we gave it our all.
“I’m gutted for Shane to see it end the way it did today, but he’s had such a good career, and it’s been awesome to watch from the sidelines as a fan and to become a mate with him has been unreal, so I can’t wait to cheer him on next year.”