Largest Fine In Supercars History After 'Knowingly False' Order From Winning Team
Scott McLaughlin will keep his Bathurst 1000 title.
But the big news from the weekend is that his Supercars team, DJR Team Penske, has been fined $250,000 ($100,000 of it suspended) which is the largest fine in Supercars history. They've also been stripped of 300 team points.
It's all to do with the go-slow on lap 134 of the Bathurst 1000 by car number 12 -- the second Team Penske car driven by Fabian Coulthard -- which was also penalised by the stewards on the weekend, being relegated from sixth place to 21st.
In a weekend hearing that took two-and-a-half hours at an undisclosed location, Team Penske boss Ryan Story appeared on behalf of this year's dominant Supercars outfit, and took his medicine -- which is to say, he did not contest the punishment.
And reading between the lines of the stewards' report, it appears he had no choice but to say as little and look as contrite as possible.
Stewards simply didn't buy Team Penske's excuse that the order to slow down was given because of debris on the track.
"DJRTP Team personnel knew that by giving the direction and it being complied with, they were obtaining an unfair advantage and that the race result might therefore be interfered with," the findings read.
"We are satisfied that this reason was knowingly false..."
In a particularly damning section of the judgement, the stewards reported that they asked Car #12's Engineer where he thought the debris was. He nominated The Elbow (turn 18) because "he thought he had heard someone else saying that".
"We are unable to accept that evidence," the stewards bluntly said.
"In our view, it defies belief that no one in DJRTP's garage knew that the reason why the Safety Car deployment had occurred."
As for the excuse about Fabian Coulthard engine's overheating when he slowed down the bulk of the field -- an excuse put forward by certain members of Team Penske on the day -- you could almost hear the stewards laughing at that one in their judgement.
"Driving at such an extraordinarily slow speed, even with nominal throttle and at high gear will exacerbate overheating problems because the slow pace of the Car will mean reduced air flow over the radiator," they said.
Thus ends a really ugly chapter of Bathurst history.
No one denies Scott McLaughlin was the best driver on the day, as he has been all year. But the tone and contents of the stewards' report leaves little doubt Team Penske tainted the 2019 race forever -- and its own brand -- with its unsportsmanlike actions.
Indeed, stewards used that very word "unsportsmanslike" twice in their verdict.
"We agreed with the deputy race director that the conduct of DJRTP demands a severe Penalty, not just because it was intentionally engaged in to give the Team an advantage but because it was done in a way that reflected a calculated attempt to conceal why it was being done," stewards said in their conclusion.
"We find, and it has been admitted, that in giving the direction to the Driver of Car #12, DJRTP infringed the principles of fairness in competition and behaved in an unsportsmanlike manner.
"We do not find that there was an attempt to influence the result of the Race but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the result was affected to a degree."
Luckily for McLaughlin, stewards stopped just short of ruling that the degree to which the race was affected was enough to change the overall result.