DJR Team Penske drivers on “awkward” lap one incident
An awkward debrief lays ahead for DJR Team Penske tonight after their two drivers made contact on the opening lap of Saturday’s Winton SuperSprint race.
The incident at Turn 5 occurred when championship leader Scott McLaughlin made a run on the outside of his team-mate and countryman Fabian Coulthard around the left-handed sweeper.
Despite thinking he had the space, there was an overlap between the pair, unsettling bot cars and putting them off the road, losing a handful of spots each in the process.
While Coulthard fell down the order and was penalised 15 seconds in his pit stop for the incident, McLaughlin got off scot free and shortcut the next few corners, emerging on to the track in third place.
After he picked up a spot on the next lap due to contact between leader James Courtney and David Reynolds, who himself was penalised five seconds, McLaughlin took the lead as the field took their pit stops, going on to win the race.
Speaking after the race, McLaughlin reflected on the first lap drama which could’ve cost him the win and did cost his team-mate valuable points in the championship fight.
“It’s an awkward one; I didn’t know if Fabian was 100% (committed),” he said before the podium.
“I thought that was my corner, I felt I was in front far enough. I went off the road and tried to get back to rejoin in the right position but I was going the wrong way. I was going to be damned if I did and damned if I didn’t!
“I just pushed on and everything was ok. I’m very proud, the Mustang is good and we’re taking on the Holden boys really well; I’m just excited for the rest of the year.”
After a quick debrief with team boss Ryan Story, Coulthard gave his calculated answer on the clash which saw him end up in 15th at the race’s end.
“When you can replay moments over and over again, you can get a better analysis at what’s gone on,” he said.
“We operate within tenths of seconds and you make a decision at that particular time and what it is, it is. If you can hit rewind, you would but you never want to hit your team-mate, it’s as simple as that.
“I apologise, I put my hand up and I’ve been penalised for it. We know our policy is to not hit each other and unfortunately today I broke the policy.”
McLaughlin has now extended his championship lead to 232 points over Coulthard who still sits in second, some 129 points ahead of Triple Eight’s Shane van Gisbergen in third.
Both drivers will be looking to approach tomorrow with a clean slate as McLaughlin chases pole after missing out today and Coulthard looks to redeem himself with a Sunday race win like last season.