Dutton outlines why SVG is a ‘true champion’

Shane van Gisbergen

Shane van Gisbergen

Triple Eight Race Engineering Team Manager Mark Dutton says Shane van Gisbergen’s drive to improve both himself and the Gen3 race car makes him “a true champion”.

The man who is officially a three-time Supercars champion currently sits third in the drivers’ standings with two wins and a further two podiums from the first six races of the season, although he would be at the very top if another victory in Newcastle was not lost to disqualification.

While the pecking order has been shaken up somewhat by the introduction of Gen3, van Gisbergen and the #97 Red Bull Ampol Racing entry are a familiar sight at the pointy end of the field.

However, that does not mean he is completely comfortable inside his new Chevrolet Camaro, saying after his Albert Park win that, “I just drive around looking at the delta; I have no feel whatsoever in this car.”

He has given feedback to Supercars in a bid to improve the Gen3 experience for the whole field of drivers, despite claiming that the nature of the ruleset plays to his strengths.

Dutton believes it shows the measure of the now newly re-signed Triple Eight driver.

“On the runs on the board so far – at Newcastle and [Albert Park] – he’s still doing a better job than everyone else but he, to his own level, knows he can be better,” Dutton told Speedcafe.

“So that’s awesome from us that he’s still, in our opinion – and the results generally showing it – that he’s doing better than everyone else, so he still has better feel to the car than anybody else.

“But, you don’t rest on those laurels – you’re trying to improve – and that’s where we’re Shane’s a true champion.

“That is, he’s pushing us and himself and the category to improve the cars, because that’s for the betterment of everyone.

“Someone on Shane’s level can deal with it – as we’ve seen in the racing so far – better than other drivers, so making the car have a lot of feel and a lot of feedback means that drivers that aren’t of Shane’s level have a better opportunity to go faster.”

Van Gisbergen has admitted to being torn between helping the category and his own best interests as a competitor.

Explaining why SVG would bother to try and make Gen3 easier for his rivals, Dutton said, “Firstly, it’s less fun for him because he doesn’t have the feel, so he’s trying to enjoy it, and you’re trying to have everyone enjoy it.

“You still like things to be tough but it is a sport and at some point you need to enjoy it, even if it’s a hard slog; crazy marathon runners, they still have fun.

“But it’s also because he cares about the category, because the more fun and the passion it is for the drivers, that gets translated to the media, to the fans.

“You’ve seen some of the great battles when the drivers get out, opposition drivers high-fiving each other and just complimenting each other on the battle even no matter who won it.

“So, that’s what he’s trying to get to, so it is for the betterment of the sport and also, you want it to be competitive – and so far it is.”

Triple Eight announced a new, multi-year contract for van Gisbergen just under a week ago, a deal which is thought to have locked in its pair of full-time drivers for the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship.

The 2023 season continues tomorrow with Practice at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint from 14:25 local time/16:25 AEST.

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