Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will save his celebrations until he’s away from a paddock he’s labelled « toxic ».
McLaughlin’s garage was almost funereal after Sunday’s Sandown 500, despite the DJR Team Penske star’s ninth-placed finish securing back-to-back titles.
The excitement of his achievement had been dampened by a pre-race penalty imposed on him and his team for an engine regulations breach at last month’s Bathurst 1000.
McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat were sent to the back of the grid for the breach which also resulted in the New Zealander’s pole position and lap record at Mount Panorama being wiped.
DJR Team Penske were also fined $30,000 for the breach.
The pair kept their win in the 1000km endurance race, however, after the engine was changed following the shootout.
It’s the second time DJR have been fined since a controversial Bathurst, with a record $250,000 fine and the loss of 300 team points handed down for issuing an illegal team order for the champion’s teammate Fabian Coulthard to « go slow » and hold up the field.
McLaughlin labelled the past few weeks as a « tough month » and admitted he’d be enjoying his success in a more-private setting with friends and family.
« I’ll just go with my friends away from this toxic paddock, » he said.
« I’ve turned a hobby into a profession and really enjoy it but there’s certain individuals that it’s pretty obvious that they don’t agree with what we do as a team. »
Red Bull Holden Racing Team boss Roland Dane labelled the penalties « lightweight » and said McLaughlin and his team were lucky to retain their race win.
« You can’t get away from the fact that Bathurst win is tainted forever and now the pole position has disappeared, » Dane told News Corp.
« It’s not good and it’s not the way the biggest race of the year in Australia should be run. »
Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes’ win in Sunday’s race means the season-ending Newcastle 500 from November 22 will be a shootout for the teams championship between the Red Bulls and DJR.
It’s a contest McLaughlin has promised he’ll be up for.
« Look at the last three years, our two teams have basically been at war in some ways, » he said.
« It’s cool. We want to beat the hell out of each other but we have a tremendous amount of respect between the two sides.
« That’s a really cool thing. »