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Safety car chaos as Supercars champ wins

UniqueThis 2 Sep 15

Supercars officials have come under fire over safety car chaos in Sunday's 200km race in New Zealand.

Championship leader Scott McLaughlin broke the record for most wins in a season as he charged to his 17th victory of 2019 at Auckland's Pukekohe Park.

His victory eclipses the tally of 16 set by Craig Lowndes in 1996 and opens up a whopping 598-point championship lead heading into next month's Bathurst 1000.

The DJR Team Penske star led home fellow New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen and Ford driver Chaz Mostert, but confusion created by an early safety car overshadowed the race.

McLaughlin was leading the race when the safety car was scrambled in lap 21 after David Reynolds' Holden suffered a technical issue.

Despite not being the race leader, Holden's Jamie Whincup was the vehicle picked up by safety car.

Believing he should be waved through, Whincup took matters into his own hands and, just as he did at the 2015 Bathurst 1000, drove past the safety car despite its flashing yellow warning lights being illuminated at the time.

Under safety car regulations, it is an offence to pass the safety car under flashing yellow lights unless given the green light or some kind of indication it is safe to do so.

"They should've had green lights on," Whincup said.

"I wasn't the leader of the race. The problem is you've got everyone here, this is our life, we're pushing bloody hard and you've got people making decisions that are just cruising back, having a few glasses of red each night and rock up to the track and their brain's not with it.

"They're not operating at the same level at what the team's are operating at."

To compound the error, the safety car again picked up the field behind Whincup a lap later, costing several cars track position including Lee Holdsworth who was effectively running second at the time.

The Ford driver was one of three Tickford Racing pilots to lose positions in the confusion and team principal Tim Edwards led the chorus of protests.

"There's a whole group of cars behind Jamie that had all pitted so it's a monumental stuff up - inexcusable," Edwards said.

Holdsworth crossed the line 15th behind teammate Cam Waters (14th) and Will Davison (13th), the two other Tickford drivers affected by the confusion.

After the race, a fuming Holdsworth demanded an apology from race officials.

"Stuff up, obviously, from race control; looking forward to an apology from them," he said.

"I think a fair few of us can expect that ... not much more you can say."

For his part in the chaos, Whincup was issued with a drive-through pit-lane penalty - cruelling any hopes the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver had of winning his second race of the season, having claimed his first pole position for 2019 earlier on Sunday.

The Holden star finished 16th and Red Bull team owner Roland Dane said while race officials had created the confusion, Whincup's decision to drive past the safety car was the biggest issue.

"If the yellow lights are on, you can't go past it," Dane said.

"We still should be better than that but so should Jamie."

Van Gisbergen's second after his victory on Saturday at his hometown track was enough for him to claim the Jason Richards Trophy as the driver with the most points across the weekend.

Ford's Chaz Mostert was third with Holden's Nick Percat fourth.