As the maligned Fabian Coulthard’s Ford team sweats on their fate, Supercars great Garth Tander is adamant their safety car controversy influenced the Bathurst 1000’s result and wants officials to throw the book at them.
Coulthard’s outfit faces a possible fine or loss of championship points after stewards ordered his DJR Team Penske team to face a hearing on Saturday following their “disgraceful” safety car tactics in last weekend’s classic enduro.
Officials sensationally charged his Ford outfit with breaching team orders regulations after Coulthard dramatically slowed down and held up the field behind his Ford teammate Scott McLaughlin, who went on to claim his maiden Great Race last Sunday.
Coulthard’s go-slow tactics eliminated the fuel advantage of hard charging Holden star Shane van Gisbergen – partnered by co-driver Tander, who eventually finished second, just 0.68 seconds behind McLaughlin.
Supercars legend Larry Perkins slammed Coulthard’s tactics as “disgraceful”.
The Bathurst 1000 results will remain provisional until the hearing’s findings are made public on Sunday.
Tander said Coulthard’s Ford team must be held accountable, saying teams would be able to “buy” a Bathurst title if DJR Team Penske avoided punishment.
“If nothing is done, you can buy Bathurst. It’s as simple as that,” Tander told Fox Sports’ The Loud Pedal podcast.
“If it’s just left to slide under the table – naughty boys, don’t do that again – then that’s a massive precedent.
“We can’t afford to have those precedents in the sport.”
Tander said there was no question Coulthard’s actions affected the result despite denials from McLaughlin.
“It definitely affected the running order and the strategy of the teams that were affected behind Fabs,” he said.
“Scott would have popped out (from the pits) fifth, or sixth, or seventh if that (safety car period) was played normally.
“So if (McLaughlin) was back in the pack, could he have got through? How do you answer that? You can’t answer that.
“(If) he got stuck behind (David) Reynolds, (James) Courtney, van Gisbergen… they are hardheads that aren’t going to open the door with 10 laps to go, regardless of who you are and what car you’re driving.
“I don’t think it’s correct to say that it didn’t affect the race result because it certainly did affect the race result.”
McLaughlin said his team won the Great Race “fair and square” while throwing his support behind maligned teammate Coulthard, who’s copped a social media backlash.
“(Coulthard) is struggling. It’s been bloody hard for him, for the team,” McLaughlin told The Loud Pedal.
“As we always do we’ll stick together as a team and get through it.”