Unsurprisingly the Kiwi didn’t face much of a fight from across the T8 garage this season thanks to a combination of his own career-best form, and the fact he was up against a Supercars rookie in Feeney.
While van Gisbergen racked up record amounts of race wins en route to the title, Feeney put in a workmanlike maiden campaign to finish sixth in the points.
And while he rarely matched van Gisbergen for pace, Feeney did out-qualify the lead T8 car on Sunday in Adelaide before storming to an impressive first Supercars win.
Speaking after that Adelaide race, where van Gisbergen found himself in the rare position of needing to double-stack behind Feeney, van Gisbergen outlined how important it was to feel pushed by his teammate.
He admitted he had missed the competition he had with former teammate-tuned-team boss Jamie Whincup during the 2022 season, and said being pushed more by Feeney would be critical to the team’s chances with the new Gen3 cars in 2023.
“It’s been great working with Broc. He’s been getting better and better,” said van Gisbergen.
“Sometimes I miss getting pushed by [Whincup], but Broc out-qualified me [in Adelaide], so there’s always something to learn.
“Even if I’m faster sometimes there’s one corner he does randomly, because he had no preconceived ideas, and it’ faster. So I have to adapt to that.
“It’s been good to learn from him. With him getting faster and faster, hopefully we’re pushing each other next year. Next year is going to be super important with the new car and we need to push each other to develop it.
“I’m glad he got a year in a well-sorted car before next year.”
Responding to van Gisbergen’s comments on Feeney, Whincup said he and the team were happy to let Feeney continue to learn without being under immense pressure across next season.
However he also made it clear that front-running results is the expectation by the end of the season.
“I think he’s got all the ingredients to go and do the job,” said Whincup.
“I’m not sure when that will be. I’m not sure if it will in three months time, a year, or two or three years. But I’ve always said if any team is going to take on a rookie, at least give them two years to prove themselves.
“We’ve committed to [Feeney] for two years, so he’s got all of next year to keep on the learning process. But by the end of next year, and the start of the following, he’s going to be needing to get consistent results, week-in, week-out.
“We wouldn’t have put him on if we don’t think he had the recipe to be able to do the job.”
For Feeney, finishing the season with a maiden race win – at one of the biggest events of the year – is something he plans on using as a platform to become a regular contender next season.
“I’d like to hope so, but it’s small steps,” he said. “No one knows what will happen next year. We go to Gen3 and its a big reset for everyone. I’m sure we’ll all be hoping we can challenge next year.
“[The win is] certainly a good way to end the year, though. I’ve got the experience leading the race now and got the first win emotions out of the way.
“It certainly gives me the confidence that I can do it and I can make it happen when I’m out front. It was about minimising mistakes and I only made one real mistake where I felt like I was going to go in the fence and luckily I saved it.
“Now I can sleep well in the off-season and have more motivation to come back stronger next year.”