McLaughlin ‘fine on fuel’ before Whincup clash
Scott McLaughlin is confident that he would have won today’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 if not for his late tangle with Jamie Whincup.
McLaughlin was bumped wide by the Red Bull Holden at The Chase on lap 150 of 161 before clashing with Garth Tander as he rejoined.
The Tander contact shot both cars into the right-hand wall and out of the race.
McLaughlin had been second on the road at the time of the incident behind Fabian Coulthard, who was committed to another fuel stop.
The Volvo, however, was right on the edge with fuel having not come in for a second splash under the lap 135 Safety Car.
Not coming back in with the likes of Tander, Whincup and eventual top finishers Will Davison and Shane van Gisbergen had gained McLaughlin track position.
Although there were doubts over his fuel, McLaughlin is convinced that he had enough to hold off his rivals and make the finish.
His argument is strengthened by the subsequent reappearance of the Safety Car on lap 157 following an incident for Rick Kelly.
“We were at our fuel number so all I had to do was keep them behind and I knew how to do that,” McLaughlin told Speedcafe.com
“All I had to do was just save on the top of the mountain and I was fine on fuel, but I made one mistake out of Forrest’s Elbow and he (Whincup) was on me.
“I knew he was going to try to pass. I braked as hard as I could and as late as I could and defended as much as I could.
“I’m pretty dejected, but I’m probably more gutted because it’s my last year with GRM and I just really wanted to win it for Gaz (team owner Garry Rogers) and the boys probably more than myself.”
Whincup visited the Volvo garage post-race, offering his view on The Chase clash.
McLaughlin says he accepts fault for a sloppy rejoin but disagreed with Whincup that his passing move was legitimate.
Although a stewards report is yet to be issued, McLaughlin is expected to receive a 25 point penalty for his rejoin.
“He said the move was on and fair enough it was on, I gave him the room, but you’ve got to stop the thing before you poleaxe someone in the door,” said McLaughlin.
“(But) it was my mistake coming back on, I didn’t realise Jamie was redressing.
“I thought they (Whincup and Tander) were going to go in front of me and I just made an absolute balls-up.”
Speaking before his team lodged its appeal of his post-race time penalty, Whincup had defended his decision to attack McLaughlin.
“The day I don’t take a passing opportunity like that is the day I hang up the helmet and let some young kid come in,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.
“If you are not racing don’t be out there. I was racing, that is the only thing I know how to do.
“There was a gap I took, Scotty squeezed me pretty hard and we had a bit of contact and then went in the grass.
“I never want to make contact with anyone. I was more than happy to redress the situation but there was no car to redress that was that.
“I don’t want to comment on the penalty, it is too raw at the moment.
“To cross the line first and not get the result is pretty painful.”