‘Disgraceful’ Bathurst move under review

 

Officials are set to re-open an investigation into Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard's "disgraceful" actions during a late safety car period at the Bathurst 1000.

It is believed stewards will take a second look at Coulthard's decision to slow down dramatically and hold up the field behind his Ford teammate Scott McLaughlin, who went on to claim his maiden Great Race on Sunday.

Officials hit Coulthard with a drive-through penalty during the race for breach of safety car procedures but are expected to have a second look at the incident to see if it influenced the outcome of the 161-lap race.

A then third-placed Coulthard controversially slowed down and backed up the rest of the field as top two Jamie Whincup and McLaughlin raced to their garage for a pit stop to get much-needed fuel during the safety car period with 26 laps left.

At the time Coulthard looked to have ensured a two horse race between Whincup and McLaughlin for the title after his go slow approach during the yellow flag ensured a huge gap between a hard charging Shane van Gisbergen and the leading duo.

Coulthard's snail's pace also ensured he avoided double stacking, or waiting behind his teammate McLaughlin in the pits.

The team radio showed van Gisbergen was filthy about Coulthard's tactics. "Fabian is going stupidly slow," van Gisbergen said.

"Fabian should get a penalty for that, going stupidly slow. That was shocking."

Scott McLaughlin celebrates. Picture Rohan Kelly
Scott McLaughlin celebrates. Picture Rohan Kelly

McLaughlin went on to hold out a fast finishing van Gisbergen by 0.68 seconds to claim his first Bathurst crown.

Supercars legend Larry Perkins branded Coulthard's actions as "disgraceful" on Sunday night.

Coulthard may face further sanctions after stewards reopened the probe but his team, DJR Team Penske, dismissed the incident on Sunday night.

"Look I am not sure if that made the difference to who won the race," said American motorsport great Roger Penske, the majority owner of Coulthard's team DJR Team Penske.

"We can look at it and talk about it but it is secondary as far I am concerned when you think about it.

"Everyone had a chance, and the two top duelled it out in the end and the outcome was what we wanted."

Coulthard's team boss Ryan Story insisted there was a problem with overheating in the car at the time of the controversy.

Coulthard said he took it slow because he was unaware of the location of the incident which had caused the safety car. "I just got told they didn't know where the incident was and to take extreme caution," Coulthard said.

Fabian Coulthard. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Fabian Coulthard. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Van Gisbergen clearly wasn't happy about the incident. "We certainly did get knocked down a few times today," Van Gisbergen said. "In the pits and then working back through the pack and got held up during the safety car by someone.

"It's pretty obvious what happened but we still would have had to fight it out with Jamie and Scott which would have been awesome and possibly closer but we were stuck behind traffic and more cars, but it is what it is."

"That car (Coulthard) has been the sacrificial lamb all year (for DJR Team Penske)," he added.

Supercars legend Mark Skaife said after the race that DJR Team Penske had used "gamesmanship" to keep McLaughlin ahead of van Gisbergen during his final pit stop.

"If you want to be glass half empty, you say they purposely slowed the whole field down to create the gap they needed to create to give the buffer they needed versus van Gisbergen," Skaife said.

"But also to give them a buffer to ensure they don't have to double stack. So if you want to play it all out, clearly there is a five car-length rule that you're supposed to observe. Clearly that was outside the rules. It was massive gamesmanship and I'm sure the was plenty of controversy from the Red Bull garage next door. There was a bit more gamesmanship than what we first thought."

Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

THE TOP 10

1. Scott McLaughlin (Ford) 6hr 27mins 51.5260 sec

2. Shane van Gisbergen (Holden) 6:27:52.2060

3. James Courtney (Holden) 6:27:53.4029

4. Jamie Whincup (Holden) 6:27:54.1959

5. David Reynolds (Holden) 6:27:55.1691

6. Fabian Coulthard (Ford) 6:27:55.5946

7. Mark Winterbottom (Holden) 6:27:57.1487

8. Scott Pye (Holden) 6:27:58.1348

9. Rick Kelly (Nissan) 6:27:58.1993

10. Lee Holdsworth (Ford) 6:27:58.5099

- with AAP



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