KOs, feuds, crashes: Supercars’ wildest season
Dave Reynolds claims he has beaten Scott McLaughlin in a season long war of words, DJR Team Penske and Triple Eight wage war and the ugly teammate fight that has divided a team - the hard truths of the 2019 V8 season are revealed.
In a no-holds-bar look at the Supercars' season, JAMES PHELPS and REBECCA WILLIAMS go behind the scenes to reveal the fights and the feuds, the dunces and the drama.
THE LOST LOVE
CAMERON WATERS AND CHAZ MOSTERT
The first rule of driving in a race team is to never publicly bag your teammate.
No matter what, you are told to suck it up and wait for the debrief.
With the truck door firmly shut, the time to let-loose is in the a-trailer of the transporter, all in-house and man-on-man.
But even Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards ignored the rulebook this year following a series of incidents involving his stars.
"It was stupid," Edwards said.
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"The pair should not be fighting that hard, but sh*t happens."
Waters spelled the Tickford Racing end for either himself or Mostert at the Bathurst 1000 when he swore on air.
"Again it is shit and shit for the team because everyone here puts in so many hours and they all deserve so much better than that,'' Waters said.
"We should have had one car and maybe two on the podium and instead we both ended up in the dirt.
"It is a common occurrence between us.''
Don't expect the pair to be driving for the same team next year.
DJR TEAM PENSKE V RED BULL HOLDEN RACING TEAM
Forget anything that has happened on the track this year, the ugliest and most brutal V8 fight has been strictly fought behind a closed curtain.
Subject to three separate go-slow changes, DJR Team Penske have squarely pointed the finger at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team (RBHRT) for making the complaints that kicked off the parity war.
A clandestine fight fought on phone and in the boardroom, RBHRT have slyly attacked DJR Team Penske in public with stealthy comments designed to only be noticed by their rivals, like calling DJR Team Penske the "Dick Johnson Team'' and constantly referring to the Mustangs as a superior car.
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN AND DAVE REYNOLDS
We have had Russell Ingall v Mark Skaife, Jamie Whincup v Mark Winterbottom, Marcos Ambrose v Greg Murphy - now we have Scott McLaughlin v Dave Reynolds.
While no punches have been thrown - yet - this one is getting ugly.
Kicking off with a start-line shunt in Townsville that ended up in a pitlane shouting match that included Reynold's glamour girlfriend, the hate continued this week when Reynold's revealed McLaughlin won't even look at him.
While McLaughlin has won the on-track battle, Reynolds has scored a KO when it comes to the war of the words.
Calling McLaughlin "corporate", "precious" and "boring," Reynolds also claimed his rival was not a legitimate champion following a Bathurst cheat claim.
SHANE VAN GISBERGEN AND GARTH TANDER, SANDOWN 500
It ended in heartache for Shane van Gisbergen and his co-driver Garth Tander, but their charge through the field in the Sandown 500 was one of the most impressive drives of the year.
Forced to start from 24th on the grid after van Gisbergen's opening-lap first-turn tangle with Anton De Pasquale in the previous day's sprint race that resulted in a DNF for car No.97, the pair produced a stunning comeback to almost steal a famous win.
Tander produced a monster opening stint to thrust the pair back into race contention, storming from the back of the field to take the lead late in the race before disaster struck with 11 laps to go.
Smoke started to stream from the rear right wheel of van Gisbergen's Commodore and he was forced into the pits for repairs, ending his hopes of victory as teammates Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes took the win.
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN AT THE GOLD COAST 600
It was a major scare for the sport's biggest star.
Scott McLaughlin was left shaken after his terrifying smash in qualifying at the Gold Coast 600 as he attempted to seal a championship win in record time.
The Ford flyer had to be taken to hospital for head scans after the high-speed impact that left the DJR Team Penske star hanging suspended in his upturned Mustang.
A force sensor measured the impact of the collision that flipped his car at a whopping 42.7G. The smash totalled his Mustang and forced McLaughlin to miss the second race at Surfers Paradise.
But as horrifying as the crash was, it also produced one of the most memorable moments of the season as McLaughlin's championship rival Shane van Gisbergen stopped and jumped out of his car to help his fellow New Zealander
In a stirring act of sportsmanship, van Gisbergen parked his Holden in the middle of the track and rushed to help McLaughlin from his wreck.
His championship has been dogged by the ongoing parity debate and a controversial Bathurst win.
But no one can dispute Scott McLaughlin's dominance as he charged towards a second straight Supercars crown in a record-breaking year.
Armed with the much-hyped Mustang, McLaughlin took full advantage of his new weapon to break Craig Lowndes' 1996 benchmark (16) for the most race wins in a year.
He looked unbeatable at the start of the year as he opened his title defence with victory in the first four races and wrapped up the championship with a round to spare.
Ahead of the final race of the season in Newcastle, McLaughlin has 18 race wins to his name, 14 more than his closest rival, Holden's Shane van Gisbergen with four wins.
Cementing his reputation as the qualifying master, McLaughlin has also amassed 16 pole positions for the year, streets ahead of the next best, Triple Eight's Jamie Whincup on three.
He sat second in the title race just two months ago and was on track for his best finish in the Supercars championship.
But it was ultimately a year that got away from Ford star Chaz Mostert, who slumped to sixth in the championship standings after an endurance season to forget.
Amid constant speculation about his future, the off-contract Tickford Racing ace found himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons late in the season after tangling with teammate Cameron Waters in Auckland and at the Bathurst 1000.
Mostert didn't even get to race at the Gold Coast 600 after writing off his Mustang in a big top-10 shootout crash.
Before the final round, Mostert had just the one race win at Albert Park and 12 more podiums, but it could have been a much better year for the 2014 Bathurst champion. Mostert will gamble his future by next week quitting Tickford Racing to join Walkinshaw Andretti United. Some say it will be a career killer.
JAMIE WHINCUP, AUCKLAND SUPERSPRINT
Holden's Jamie Whincup didn't miss when he unleashed an extraordinary attack on race stewards after the safety car debacle at Pukekohe Raceway in Auckland.
The seven-time Supercars champion was fuming post-race after being hit with a drive-through penalty for illegally passing the safety car, believing it had been wrongly deployed in front of him.
After starting the race on pole, Whincup finished the race in 16th position following the penalty and safety car mix-up that dramatically changed the course of the race.
In a spray for the ages, Whincup slammed CAMS officials, saying they were "cruising back, having a few glasses of red each night" and "not operating at the same level as the teams".
Ford's Cameron Waters also found himself in hot water after he questioned whether results should stand after the safety car controversy.
The comments left CAMS chief executive Eugene Arocca fuming and there was the threat of a race suspension before Whincup issued a formal apology. He also agreed to spend time in race control to understand its procedures, which he did at Bathurst. Both Whincup and Waters escaped bans.
THE MUSTANG V THE COMMODORE
It's been the hotly debated topic up and down pit lane all year. Did the new Ford Mustang have an unfair advantage?
The dominance of the Mustang in 2019 has had the Holden teams crying foul, while the Fords were sick of hearing about the 'P' word.
But after a rampaging start to the season, Supercars officials acknowledged there was a disparity, putting the brakes on the Mustang with enforced technical changes.
The Fords were first forced to make changes to their centre of gravity before changes were then ordered to the car's aerodynamic package to level the playing field.
The Holdens were later granted changes to their own aerodynamic package.
Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer has acknowledged the series needs to do a better job of ensuring parity between the cars for next season.
THE BATHURST 1000
A last lap restart put the year's biggest rivals in a one lap fight for the sport's biggest prize.
Ford v Holden, DJR Team Penske v RBHRT, Kiwi v Kiwi, Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen went toe-to-toe in a 6.1km heart-stopper to finish a day of drama.
With both pilots gunning for their first Mount Panorama crown, it was a white-knuckle ride to the finish line.
A post-race "team-orders'' charge and an engine cheating revelation then made what would have been remembered as a famous race infamous.
Fans will be fighting over the result for another 50 years.