Van Gisbergen hits back at McLaughlin criticism

Shane van Gisbergen fired a trash talk warning shot at Scott McLaughlin in Townsville with a veiled reference to the controversial 2019 Bathurst 1000.

McLaughlin was critical of van Gisbergen following yesterday’s final race in Townsville, unimpressed with a late-race pass for the lead that forced the Shell Ford wide enough for Jamie Whincup to sneak into second.

The move helped Whincup take a handful of points off McLaughlin in the battle for the 2020 title, McLaughlin’s advantage now 143 with three events to go.

A fired up McLaughlin said the pass was “pretty average” in his immediate post-race comments, along with claims that it was still too early in the season for “silly games” from the T8 drivers.

When asked for his response, van Gisbergen told media: “I don’t know about this stuff.

“We don’t need to bring up ‘debriss’ and stuff like that. I thought it was a fair pass on my part.”

The ‘debriss’ comment was a veiled reference to last year’s Bathurst 1000, which McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat won in controversial fashion.

DJRTP was later fined $250,000 for breaking the FIA’s Obligation of Fairness rules when Fabian Coulthard held up the field behind the Safety Car as McLaughlin sprinted for the pits.

The mispronunciation of the word ‘debris’ over the radio to Coulthard was a key part of the post-race findings.

“It’s always simmering, it’s obviously still in their minds,” said McLaughlin in response to van Gisbergen’s Bathurst jibe.

“We got the win [at Bathurst last year] and we’re really proud of that achievement and the championship last year and how we got it.

“But at the end of the day we work hard as a team to take the fight to one of the best teams in pitlane.

“You like to have a battle all the way to the end. Obviously we’re going to bang doors and disagree from time to time, that’s motorsport and that’s how we get on.

“It’s not going to change the way I race the two of them or whatever.

“I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If I say something I’m going to be hated and if I don’t say something people are going to say I’m soft, so it’s one of those deals where I’ve just got to cop it.”

When asked for his take, Whincup said a bit of needling between the front-runners was good for the sport.

“I was just doing my thing,” he said. “It’s racing, it’s a team sport and we race hard.

“It’s been going on for years and will hopefully continue for many years to come. It’s what it’s all about.

“The day no one’s talking about [the rivalries] is the day we’ve got to be worried.”

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