The #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team entry of eventual Bathurst 1000 race winners Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Premat was disqualified from Armor All Qualifying and the Top 10 Shootout after it was found that the engine installed in the car for those sessions “exceeded the maximum permitted valve lift” in multiple cylinders.
McLaughlin had converted provisional pole into another first position start for the Great Race, although that statistic and the practice record he set in the Shootout will no longer stand.
The race win had already become highly controversial when stewards charged DJRTP with contravening team orders rules and ultimately established a breach of the FIA International Sporting Code (ISC) almost a week after the fact, relating to Fabian Coulthard's slowdown under Safety Car in its #12 entry.
Unlike that matter, stewards found regarding the engine that “there is no evidence from which we could conclude the breach was deliberate or known,” and further that “Nor is there evidence from which we could conclude that Car #17 did benefit from a performance advantage by reason of the breach.”
“I think it's a shame and it's unfair on the fans because there's more controversy around what's supposed to be our most valued asset, the Bathurst 1000, and to have another issue that's come out of the behaviour of that team, I just think it's unfair on the fans,” he said on Fox Sports' Supercars Trackside.
“We want to be able to go and race there, race clean, race fair, and everyone expects the same thing.
“I just hope that for next year, a lot of these things are ironed out and all the teams behave themselves in the correct way so that we don't have this sort of nonsense going on again, because it's not good for us, it's not good for DJR Team Penske, who have been in the middle of all of this, and most importantly, it's not good for the fans.”
In addition to the session disqualifications, DJRTP was fined $30,000 and Car #17 was put to the back of the grid for today's Penrite Oil Sandown 500.
Brad Jones, who owns his eponymous team, asserted that the punishment was not harsh enough.
“I think it's very easy to draw a conclusion quickly, but my initial reaction is, I don't think the penalty's probably hard enough,” declared Jones on Supercars Trackside.
“I think if the bits aren't right, then the bits aren't right, so therefore the penalty needs to be substantial.
“They've checked the race engine and it was fine so when you put it together with the other thing that happened, it's not good,” he added in an apparent reference to the ISC breach.
McLaughlin and Premat finished ninth in the Sandown 500, after incurring an in-race time penalty for a breach of pit stop regulations, which was more than enough for the former to seal another Supercars Championship crown.