Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen’s winning start to the new Supercars season has been immediately put in doubt, with two rival teams protesting Saturday’s result in Newcastle.
As reigning champion van Gisbergen and teammate Broc Feeney took a one-two finish to kick off the 2023 season, both Tickford Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United teams have lodged protests over the legality of the Red Bull Ampol car.
Both cars, van Gisbergen’s No.97 and Feeney’s No.88, have had their cooling systems challenged by their opposition.
“Motorsport Australia can confirm protests were received from Tickford Racing against cars 88 and 97, and Walkinshaw Andretti United against 97,” said Motorsport Australia.
“The Deputy Race Directors also alleged a technical breach of C16.2 regarding the Driver Cooling System on cars 88 and 97.
“A Stewards Hearing has now concluded, with Stewards now deliberating.”
A decision is expected on Sunday (NZ time), as racing continues in Newcastle. Race two of the new season will go ahead on Sunday afternoon.
Now racing in a Chevrolet after Holden’s exit from Supercars, van Gisbergen gave his new suppliers a perfect start to their return down under.
Gunning for a third straight title, the Kiwi finished 14.7 seconds clear of teammate Feeney and notched his 76th career win, after starting sixth on the grid.
“I have to thank the team, one-two in our first race out,” van Gisbergen said post-race.
“I have never been comfortable in this car, and the team’s done everything they can to make it better for me.
“I feel like a wobbler driving the thing, but the team’s given us two great cars. Tomorrow’s going to be tough, gotta come back and do it again.”
Starting down the grid, van Gisbergen played his hand to perfection and stayed in touch with the leaders, before his pit strategy put the Kiwi at the front of the pack on lap 30 of 95.
From there, van Gisbergen didn’t relent and closed out his opening race to take the chequered flag.
Now, though, van Gisbergen faces an anxious wait to find out if his result will stand, following the protest.