Team boss erupts over Bathurst ‘cheating’
DAYS on from the controversial 2019 Bathurst 1000 race, the result continues to divide the grid with one team boss demanding the DJR Penske side is disqualified from the race.
DJR Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin sealed his first win in the great race following a final lap shootout with Triple 8 racing rival Shane van Gisbergen after a late safety car incursion.
However, the result has been in doubt since due to the controversial actions of his teammate, Fabian Coulthard.
Officials originally hit Coulthard with a drive-through penalty during the race for breach of safety car procedures after he bunched and held up the field as McLaughlin pitted for fuel for the final laps.
Coulthard's actions resulted in McLaughlin's lead increasing from one second out to 47 after the yellow flags where first waved.
Heavy backlash flowed with Coulthard hitting back, saying he had just done what he was told.
"It was a directive from the team," Coulthard told Supercars.com.
"The team said to me 'take extreme caution, the engine is hot'.
"I'm actually reading my phone now and I'm getting smashed for something I've been told to do.
"I'm a little bit pissed off. I did what I was told and I'm getting murdered for it."
The result will continue to remain provisional until a further hearing takes place at the Gold Coast 600 in late October.
McLaughlin also hit back and said no one could take the victory away from him.
A fine would appear the most likely penalty, although there are no limits to the sanctions the stewards can impose.
"I didn't know anything about it until the press conference after the race," McLaughlin said.
"We did our bit. We had a fast car, we won the race, so we'll just get on with it, it'll sort itself out.
"It certainly wasn't intentional from our point of view. Fabian was just doing something he needed to do, but I just pushed on.
"We had a great car all day and unfortunately for him (Coulthard) there is a bit of conjecture there, but he drove a great race and I feel bad for him, that's for sure."
But McLaughlin doesn't have a friend in Penrite Racing boss Barry Ryan.
The Erebus Motorsport CEO said the Penske team had "fixed the race" with Coulthard's actions.
"Essentially that team blatantly cheated, I guess, and fixed the race, from that point," Ryan told the Below the Bonnet podcast.
"There's no other way to look at it. it's pretty clear from the vision, the radio, the body language of the people they interviewed within the team that they did it on purpose.
"Unfortunately us and some other teams, they've taken us out of the race essentially and didn't give us an opportunity to use our strategy.
"It's pretty damaging (to the sport). Unfortunately there is so much public damage going on around it anyway, we just don't need another thing like this that damages our integrity and the way our sport is perceived.
"It is blatant cheating, and I don't like calling anybody a cheat but they did. They had to do that to ensure that car No.17 had the chance to stay as (one of) the front two cars."
With eventual runner-up van Gisbergen, Erebus' David Reynolds and Walkinshaw Andretti United's James Courtney held up in the incident, Ryan said those cars might have able to jump ahead of McLaughlin and Whincup, who were ahead of Coulthard, if they weren't held up.
Ryan also told Speedcafe.com he felt the punishment should be severe.
"They have got to be disqualified, the whole team has to be excluded," Ryan told Speedcafe.com.
"It (a fine or a loss of points) is not good enough because then you can buy Bathurst.
"Next year you can do the same thing (and) pay the fine - it sets a precedent. They (governing body CAMS) have to make a statement.
"I think if I'd made that (in-race) decision, I think Betty (Klimenko, team owner) would have sacked me."
While he was one of the drivers held up, third-place finisher Courtney admitted he felt sorry for the Penske drivers.
"Unfortunately Fabs and Scott wear the brunt of it all," Courtney told the Supercars website.
"They're just doing their job, they're doing what their team tells them to do, so you sort of do what the person who pays you money (tells you) to do.
"So I feel sorry for those guys for getting all of the heat they're getting.
"Definitely the team did something that shouldn't have been done and I'm sure they'll be punished for it … but ultimately Scott didn't do anything wrong, it was the team.
"So I think taking the win off Scott would be pretty harsh."