McLaugh­lin wraps up the crown, but on a sour note

Mercury (Hobart) - - MOTORSPORT, GOLF - ED JACK­SON

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.

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