Chance Of Scott McLaughlin Being Stripped Of Bathurst Win 'Very, Very, Slim'
Scott McLaughlin's Bathurst 1000 win will almost certainly stand.
That's the word to 10 daily from a Bathurst insider, in the wake of huge controversy in yesterday's Great Race.
Scott McLaughlin won Sunday's Bathurst 1000 in yet another show of dominance in a year when he is tearaway leader of the Supercars Championship.
But the win was marred in the eyes of many by an incident on lap 135, when the safety car was out and his DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard appeared to slow the field down deliberately in order to let McLaughlin extend his gap on the majority of the field.
That's Coulthard in the image below, stacking up the field while sitting in third position in the race. The leading two cars, driven by McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup, are out of view, a long way in front of the pack.
There was a hearing after the race, at which Coulthard and Penske team boss Ryan Story faced race stewards over the incident. A Confederation of Australian Motor sport statement published after the hearing read:
After the race the stewards determined to conduct an inquiry into the incident on Laps 134-135 during the Safety Car deployment when the gap between cars #17 and #12 increased significantly to the disadvantage of all cars behind car #12 because they were concerned that the incident may have been the result of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd having issued an instruction to the driver of car #12 to slow and create an unwarranted large gap between cars #17 and car #12 for tactical reasons.
The last two lines summarise what every fan was thinking. Was the slow down, as the official statement put it, for "tactical reasons"?
Coulthard said it was a team directive and that he was told to "take extreme caution" because his engine was overheating.
In response to a social media mauling, he said "I did what I've been told and I'm getting murdered for it". But despite his protests, many still believe the slow down was tactical.
At issue here is whether the team has breached rule D24.1, which prohibits team orders "to a driver or team member, either verbal or otherwise, the effect of which may interfere with a race result".
Stewards didn't rule conclusively one way or the other, but did rule that the evidence received was sufficient to proceed to a fresh hearing at the Gold Coast 600 on the weekend of October 26 and 27.
"In the circumstances, the classifications for Race 25 remain provisional," stewards said.
The word provisional has led some people to believe the result could be changed. But could it?
It's "incredibly, highly ridiculously unlikely that could happen," the insider told 10 daily.
"The chances of them changing that result are very, very slim.
"Stewards have the power to impose a raft of different penalties which may include team disqualification, but in the stewards' report for yesterday's race, they very clearly say the team has not been found guilty.
"Fabian hasn’t breached any rule at this time."
Supercars insiders say that if Coulthard is eventually found to have breached the rules, the most likely penalty would be a fine or perhaps championship points stripped.
It is unheard-of in Supercars for a winning driver to be disqualified for something another driver did. But it is not an impossibility either.