Five-time Supercars champion Mark Skaife said there was “nothing spiteful” intended in his on-air criticism of Shane van Gisbergen following Sunday’s now-infamous Newcastle 500 press conference.
Following the second race of the Supercars championship – where van Gisbergen refused to answer questions after comments he’d made earlier in the weekend “bit [him] in the arse” – Skaife condemned the silence, saying van Gisbergen as champion carried the “expectation” to be an ambassador for the sport.
Van Gisbergen, a three-time champion, took to social media on Monday to clarify his stance, before labelling Skaife’s comments a “kick in the teeth”.
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But Skaife – who is also on the Supercars board, and played a key role in the implementation of the new Gen3 ruleset – said that was not his intention.
“I made sure that my comments the other day were not from (the point of view of) being a board member or hierarchy in any way from Supercars,” he told News Corp.
“I was making a comment as a Fox Sports commentator regarding what the expectation is of a champion, of an ambassador for our sport. That was simply it.
“There was nothing spiteful (intended), I certainly didn’t want him to feel like I had kicked him in the teeth for instance. It wasn’t that.
“I was making a point that there was a responsibility and a duty under the normal conditions that we play in and that was all.”
Skaife said he had been in contact with van Gisbergen’s Triple Eight boss Jamie Whincup and technical director Jeromy Moore, but not van Gisbergen himself. He said he plans to at the next Supercars race meeting at the Australian Grand Prix.
Van Gisbergen and teammate Broc Feeney were disqualified from the first Newcastle race last Saturday. An appeal for which will be held on Wednesday, March 29 – the day before the grand prix meeting begins.
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