Scott McLaughlin says a pass by Shane van Gisbergen that cost him the lead and subsequently second place to Jamie Whincup in Race 24 was “pretty average”.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver led late in the final 39-lap affair at Townsville after an early pit stop and undercut saw him surge through from eighth to the lead.
McLaughlin held a two-second advantage over a chasing Todd Hazelwood until a Safety Car intervention bunched the field up.
The championship leader maintained the lead on the restart with nine laps to go but was soon under attack from Whincup and then van Gisbergen.
The change for the lead ultimately came on Lap 36 when van Gisbergen dived down the inside at Turn 11.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver went wide of the apex and cast McLaughlin wide, which allowed Whincup to follow through and steal second place.
McLaughlin was left bemused, suggesting it was too early to us intrateam tactics.
“Shane’s playing the team game there and he’s made plenty of clean passes there over the years and that was pretty average,” said McLaughlin after the race.
“Just a big push off at the end there. I get that he’s playing the team game, but it would be nice to have a bit of a fair battle.”
McLaughlin expanded on the incident in Fox Sports’ Supercars Trackside, suggesting that he wouldn’t be averse to making similar moves of his own.
“I had to run wide because I was put out there,” said McLaughlin.
“I knew I didn’t have the pace for Shane because he had the fresher tyres and the Safety Car at the end really hurt us.
“With us pitting on Lap 7, I think we did an awesome job holding on that far but I would have loved to have a one-to-one battle with Jamie.
“I get the team game, I feel like it’s a bit too early for those silly games but whether I agree with that sportsmanship or not, that’s fair game.
“They’re a top team and they set a precedent, so let’s go.”
For van Gisbergen, who claimed his second straight win after a drought, he said he could understand McLaughlin’s frustration but it was a case of aiding Whincup where he could.
Asked about the pass on McLaughlin, van Gisbergen said, “Yeah, he’s spitting chips about that one, as you would I guess, but (I’m) just doing the team and helping out Jamie to get through as well.
“We had really good grip on him. It would’ve been quite interesting to see if we could have got back to him (before the Safety Car) with the four tyres at the end.”