Officials will further investigate Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard’s “disgraceful” Bathurst 1000 safety car tactics after sensationally charging his Ford outfit with breaching team orders regulations.
Coulthard was initially slapped with a drive-through penalty after he dramatically slowed down and held up the field behind his Ford teammate Scott McLaughlin, who went on to claim his maiden Great Race on Sunday.
But Coulthard, who is third in the series standings, now faces a fine or loss of championship points after stewards ordered his DJR Team Penske team to face a hearing on the Gold Coast next week.
Officials will investigate whether Coulthard’s actions influenced the outcome of the race after following team orders to slow down.
McLaughlin is not set to be stripped of his maiden Bathurst victory but governing body Confederation of Australian Motor Sport have confirmed the 2019 Bathurst 1000 results remain provisional until the hearing.
Coulthard sparked an uproar over his actions on Sunday, with Supercars legend Larry Perkins describing them as “disgraceful”.
Critics weren’t happy when a then-third placed Coulthard backed up the field as top two Jamie Whincup and McLaughlin raced to their garage for a pit stop to get much-needed fuel during the safety car period with 26 of the race’s 161 laps left.
Coulthard’s snail’s pace under the yellow flag – in which drivers are not allowed to overtake – extended the gap between a hard-charging Shane van Gisbergen and the leading duo from one to 47 seconds.
Coulthard’s actions also avoided double stacking or waiting behind his teammate McLaughlin in the pits.
McLaughlin went on to hold out a fast-finishing van Gisbergen by 0.68 seconds to claim his first Bathurst crown.
DJR Team Penske team boss Ryan Story insisted on Sunday there was a problem with overheating in Coulthard’s car at the time of the controversy.
Coulthard vowed to clear his name, saying he felt like a “scapegoat”.
“For me, the safety car came out and I was told to slow up and take extreme caution,” he told Motorsport.com.
“We had an overheating drama at the same time. I slowed up and did what I was told.
“”I’m actually reading my phone now and I’m getting absolutely smashed for something I was told to do.
“I need to clear my name. It’s not my style. I don’t race like that, I’m a clean racer.
“To see what I’m reading, I’m getting pretty shafted for it. I’m the scapegoat.”
Runner-up Van Gisbergen clearly wasn’t happy about the incident after again missing out on winning his first Bathurst title.
“We got held up in the safety car by someone, it made it tough (to win),” said the Holden star.
“But that car (Coulthard) has been the sacrificial lamb all year [for DJR Team Penske].”
“I only found out about what had happened at the press conference,” McLaughlin told D’Arcy Waldergrave on Radio Sport.
“It certainly wasn’t intentional from our point of view, Fabian was just doing something he needed to do, but I just pushed on. We had a great car all day and unfortunately for him there is a bit of conjecture there, but he drove a great race and I feel bad for him, that’s for sure.
“Shane is the ultimate competitor, probably the toughest in the sport and I can understand he’d be pretty gutted but he drove a hell of a race.”