Some of Supercars’ biggest names have slammed DJR Team Penske, with Craig Lowndes saying the Ford outfit’s safety car controversy will forever overshadow the 2019 Bathurst 1000 result.
While the focus was supposed to be on this weekend’s next enduro the Gold Coast 600, rival drivers were still shaking their heads over the Ford team’s Great Race tactics which earned heavy penalties on Sunday.
Series leader Scott McLaughlin was allowed to keep his maiden Bathurst title after a hearing was held last weekend over his teammate Fabian Coulthard dramatically slowing down during a late safety car period.
But their outfit DJR Team Penske copped the biggest fine and deduction of championship points ever seen in Supercars history.
They were found guilty of breaching the FIA’s Obligation of Fairness regulations after a then third-placed Coulthard held up the Bathurst field under the yellow flag – in which cars can’t overtake – eliminating the fuel advantage of a fast finishing Shane van Gisbergen.
Holden star van Gisbergen eventually placed second, just 0.68 seconds behind McLaughlin.
As a result, DJR Team Penske copped a $250,000 fine – albeit $100,000 suspended until the end of 2021 – and were docked 300 championship points.
It left a bitter taste in the mouth of seven-time Bathurst winner Lowndes as he tried to re-focus on the Gold Coast 600.
“I think that people will remember Bathurst for what it was now, not for the win – I think that’s the down side of it,” Lowndes said of DJR Team Penske’s actions.
“Bathurst is all about the Peter Brock Trophy and having a hard and fast race to the finish.
“Scotty, yes he had one of the fastest cars there that weekend, and he stands on the top step, but as I said in the spirit of the race, it wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
Not usually one to criticise rivals, Lowndes didn’t hold back when asked about DJR Team Penske’s tactics.
“That the fine has been the biggest that the category has ever put on any race team, so I think that sort of speaks volumes about obviously what went on,” he said.
“For me, personally, I don’t think it was in the spirit of the rules, the spirit of the way the race was.”
Lowndes’ Holden teammate Jamie Whincup – a record seven-time series champion – was also clearly unimpressed by DJR Team Penske.
“We need to protect the racing and the competition to make sure that whoever pays $100 to get in on the weekend actually sees a fair dinkum battle between everyone,” he said.
Holden star Garth Tander – who will partner van Gisbergen again on the Gold Coast this weekend – said DJR Team Penske got off too lightly.
“I feel like still the team has been given a pretty light penalty,” Tander told Network Ten’s RPM program.
“It’s a lot of money to everyone sitting at home. But the commercial reality of that fine? It’s not that big.”