After showing remarkable sportsmanship in a frustrating year, Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen has been rewarded with the Barry Sheene Medal as Supercars’ best and fairest driver.
Van Gisbergen endured a tough 2019 season, finishing a distant second in the drivers’ championship behind fierce Ford rival Scott McLaughlin who claimed back to back titles.
But the Holden star didn’t walk away empty handed in 2019, securing the best and fairest gong for the first time at the Supercars end of season awards in Sydney on Monday night.
The award – named after the late motorcycle world champion and popular Supercars commentator – is decided by votes from motorsport journalists.
Despite finishing 562 points shy of fellow New Zealander McLaughlin in the standings, van Gisbergen was still impressive behind the wheel with five race wins, four poles and 12 podiums.
But van Gisbergen arguably won the most fans in 2019 for his actions out of the car, showing unprecedented chivalry at the Gold Coast 600 last month.
Van Gisbergen stunned onlookers when he dramatically jumped out of his Holden to help McLaughlin after his Ford foe sensationally crashed in Gold Coast 600 qualifying.
It revealed a different side to van Gisbergen who up until then appeared to cut a bitter figure as he tried to reel in McLaughlin’s series lead.
Van Gisbergen was particularly frustrated by his Bathurst 1000 finish where he looked set to make a dent in McLaughlin’s championship buffer and claim a maiden Great Race in early October.
However, McLaughlin’s DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard infamously held up the Bathurst field during a late safety car period – in which cars can’t overtake – eliminating the fuel advantage of a fast finishing van Gisbergen.
Van Gisbergen eventually placed second, just 0.68 seconds behind McLaughlin.
DJR Team Penske copped the heaviest penalty available to officials – a $250,000 fine and deduction of 300 championship points.
McLaughlin kept the Bathurst win even after his team were later penalised again when officials discovered DJR Team Penske had also committed an engine rule breach at Mount Panorama.
Rival drivers sledged McLaughlin with Holden’s Scott Pye even comparing the Kiwi to disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong on social media.
But McLaughlin – who won a record 18 races in 2019 – was still popular with fans, earning for the second straight year the Favourite Driver Award decided by public vote.
Meanwhile, Bryce Fullwood was officially crowned Super2 champion while rookie Tyler Everingham won the Mike Kable Young Gun Award on Monday night.