Shane van Gisbergen's farewell to V8s Supercars resembled anything but a lap of honour at the championship-ending Telstra 500 in Sydney today when New Zealand's leading driver had a bizarre tangle with a medical chase car.
Van Gisbergen was nudged into a fence by Team Hiflex Ford driver Tony D'Alberto on the opening lap of the first 74-lap, 250km race and then experienced steering failure as he exited turn 10 at Sydney Olympic Park.
The racers trailing van Gisbergen's SP Tools Racing No 9 Ford Falcon managed to get around his vehicle but as the 23-year-old made slow progress down the following straight it veered towards a concrete wall as the medical car attempted to pass on the inside.
The Porsche sustained significant damage to the front bumper and had to be replaced as the safety car entered the circuit.
Van Gisbergen, who confirmed last week that he is quitting the sport six months after re-signing with Stone Brothers Racing until the end of 2015, made a sombre retreat to pit lane but bore no malice towards D'Alberto.
"I just got shuffled round the outside. Tony's a good guy, I get along well with him, but that time he didn't want to share the road. He pushed me wide and into the fence."
He then explained how he collided with the medical car.
"The steering was quite bent but I thought I'd get back to pit lane and then it just snapped left."
Van Gisbergen was fifth in the championship heading into the final round but will drop down the ladder after today's non-completion.
It was initially unclear whether his Ford would be repaired in time to line-up in tomorrow's finale but he was optimistic.
"It's a bit of a shame but hopefully we can get on with it tomorrow."
Kiwi veteran Greg Murphy's dismal season took another unfortunate twist when a steering issue also forced his Pepsi Max Crew racing Holden Commodore out of the race long before the halfway mark.
"It's just another mechanical failure, the steering's failed so we're out of another race."
Murphy's contract with Kelly Racing ends tomorrow and the four-time Bathurst 1000 winner was unsure where he would be driving next year.
"You'll see me around at some stage, I don't know where or how or when," he said.
"There's nothing full-time lined up at this stage."
Holden ace Jamie Whincup (Team Vodafone) wrapped up his fourth title in the previous round at Winton last month so the focus is on the race for second between Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) and Whincup's teammate Craig Lowndes.
- © Fairfax NZ News