Defending Supercars Championship winner Shane van Gisbergen has been handed a grid penalty for Sunday’s Sandown 500 endurance race by race officials following his collision with Fabian Coulthard in Saurday’s final practice session.

The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver tagged the rear of Coulthard’s DJR Team Penske Ford at the final corner in the closing minutes of the session, which pitched Coulthard into a wild spin.

Van Gisbergen initially claimed that Coulthard brake-tested him, although in a subsequent hearing conducted by Supercars stewards, the reigning champion was deemed at fault and handed a two-place grid penalty for Sunday’s 161-lap race.

The penalty will drop van Gisbergen and co-driver Matt Campbell from 19th to 21st on the grid for the race. Van Gisbergen had provisionally qualified a poor 16th-fastest, but slipped further back after Campbell made a mistake in the opening ‘Race for the Grid’ leg that saw him finish 25th before van Gisbergen was able to recover to 19th in his stint.

Van Gisbergen was frustrated by the stewards’ decision, describing his grid penalty as “stupid” when he spoke with Fox Sports after the ruling was handed down.

“It’s a weird one, being penalised for practice,” he said. “It was a silly incident. Fabian was going so slow, wrecked his lap and I ended up running up the back of him.

“If that’s how it’s going to be in practice, for the rest of the year I’ll get in his way every time. It’s pretty stupid.”

Van Gisbergen can, however, take some confidence heading into Sunday’s race after going second-fastest in Sunday’s pre-race warm-up session.

The defending champion wasn’t the only driver to incur punishment from officials.

Nissan Motorsport’s Simona de Silvestro was hit with a similar grid drop for Sunday’s race after being ruled to have impeded van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup in yesterday’s preliminary qualifying session.

Simona de Silvestro, Nissan Motorsport - 2017 Sandown 500

Simona de Silvestro was handed a two-place grid penalty for impeding Jamie Whincup in preliminary qualifying. (LAT)

The Swiss driver and her co-driver David Russell will start from 24th place in their #78 Harvey Norman Altima.

After being found at fault for triggering the frightening last-lap accident with Todd Hazlewood in the opening qualifying race, TEKNO Autosport’s owner/driver Jonathon Webb has been hit with a $15,000 fine – half of which is suspended until the end of the year – for reckless driving.

Images via LAT Images and Red Bull Content Pool

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Geoff Burke

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