McLaughlin wraps up the crown, but on a sour note
FORD driver Scott McLaughlin has secured the 2019 Supercars championship on the same day he was penalised for an engine-rule breach at the Bathurst 1000.
Forced to start yesterday’s Sandown 500 from the rear of the grid because of the breach, McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat finished ninth. That result ensures the DJR Team Penske star has an unassailable 550-point championship lead heading into the season finale later this month in Newcastle.
Controversy hit before the start of the race with stewards announcing McLaughlin’s Ford Mustang had run an engine during qualifying and the top-10 shootout at last month’s Bathurst 1000 which breached regulations.
As a result, McLaughlin and Premat were sent to the back of the grid while DJR Team Penske was fined $30,000.
McLaughlin also had his Bathurst pole position and lap record scrapped but retained his race because of the engine having been replaced before the 1000km event at Mount Panorama.
It’s the second fine issued to DJR Team Penske since the controversial Bathurst weekend. A partially suspended $250,000 fine and the loss of 300 team championship points were imposed after Fabian Coulthard was directed to hold up the field during a late safetycar incident.
Coulthard was relegated to 21st after the “go slow” tactics allowed leading duo McLaughlin and Whincup to pit without conceding track position.
In a statement, DJR Team Penske yesterday emphasised their belief that McLaughlin’s engine was within regulations and it was never their intent to break any rules.
They attributed the breach to a failure to incorrect measuring of the engine in the assembly process or damage to the engine.