Sport Motorsport Van Gisbergen stitches up Supercars title in Sydney

Van Gisbergen stitches up Supercars title in Sydney

van Gisbergen
Shane Van Gisbergen crosses the finish line in third place to stitch up the Supercars drivers championship.
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Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen has secured the 2016 Supercars title after finishing third at the Sydney 500 on Saturday.

Van Gisbergen held a 191-point lead heading into race 28 of the season and only needed to finish in the top five to secure the title.

The Holden gun finished third behind Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup for an unassailable 170-point lead with one race to go on Sunday.

He becomes the first New Zealand-born driver to win an Australian touring car crown since Jim Richards in 1991.

“What an amazing year … It’s a pretty awesome day,” he said. “To finally be champion of your sport, a lifetime goal.”

van Gisbergen
Garth Tander and Jamie Whincup let van Gisbergen have it with the podium champagne.

The penultimate race of the season was an eventful one, with the eventual champion crashing into his predecessor, Mark Winterbottom, on lap 10.

Red Bull’s Van Gisbergen tried to overtake on the inside line of a corner and clipped the left rear side of Winterbottom’s Ford, sending the 2015 winner into a spin.

He was hit with a drive-through penalty and Winterbottom said “he should use his head a little bit”.

Both van Gisbergen and Red Bull team boss Mark Dutton accepted blame for the incident, but it was not enough to stop him claiming the title.

Jamie Whincup, while disappointed to miss out on an unprecedented seventh title, said his intra-team rival deserved to win.

“Him and his crew deserve it more than anyone else,” he said.

“The winner of the championship is the most consistent, and they’ve been the most consistent.”

Van Gisbergen finished on the podium in each of the past eight races leading up to the finale, including Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast.
Three of those were wins, while Whincup took out the other five.

“Having seen Shane develop since he first came in the series to where he is now, mature and settled down, has been impressive to watch,” said Holden Racing Team veteran Garth Tander, who finished the race second.

“The drive that he put in today after what happened in the early laps, to come back on the podium the way he did, is probably a sweeter way to win the championship.”

The season ends with a second 74-lap race on Sunday, the last time Sydney will host the finale before it heads to Newcastle in 2017.

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