The Safety Car drama in Race 24 at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint shot several teams in the foot, none on a greater scale than Tickford Racing.
Chaz Mostert claimed a podium finish, but Will Davison, Cameron Waters and Lee Holdworth filled positions 13 through 15.
It was a kick in the guts for the Ford squad, with all four cars reaching the Top 10 Shootout.
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Early in the race, Red Bull Holden’s Jamie Whincup was the effective leader but passed the Safety Car, and copped a drive-through penalty for his actions. He was critical of Race Control afterwards, before his team led calls for an investigation into the situation.
Whincup’s words prompted a response from race officials, and it’s believed Whincup is staring down a sanction over his criticism.
There were some positives to come from the race, with career-best finishes falling the way of Todd Hazelwood (fifth) and Simona De Silvestro (seventh). Scott Pye also finished sixth, while Mark Winterbottom, Richie Stanaway and James Golding filled positions eight through 10.
Regardless, the end result left a bitter taste in the mouths of many, with fans demonstrating their anger with the Safety Car procedure on social media.
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Holdsworth’s end result was particularly demoralising, with the veteran searching for his first podium finish for over five years following consistent weekend pace.
After starting on the front row for the first time since 2011, Holdsworth (#5 The Bottle-O Racing Mustang) couldn’t hide his fury over the “complete and utter stuff up” that left him 15th at race’s end.
“I don’t know what else to say,” Holdsworth said.
“The boys and Sammy [Scaffidi, race engineer] did a great job and gave me a great car, we put it on the front row, and we have nothing to show for it.
“We finally had a real good chance to take home some silverware and something like that takes it away from us. I have no words.”
Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang) went one step further, suggesting the race result should be annulled.
“I had a really good race car, was just trucking around, we would have been on for a podium, but obviously race control managed to screw that one up royally,” Waters said.
“It’s an embarrassment that a championship can do that and classify it as full points.
“So as far as I’m concerned I want an explanation from the powers that be, and I think that race should be zero points.”
Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Racing Mustang) was a beneficiary after moving from seventh to third, but said his podium should have fallen the way of his teammate.
“This is probably bittersweet, I don’t deserve this trophy today, this is all for Lee Holdsworth,” Mostert said.
“What happened in the race just shouldn’t happen and he deserves this podium more than us, he was in a better spot, so it’s a shame.
“I’m lost for words because this is for Lee Holdsworth, this is his trophy.”
Another to be “shafted” by the disaster was Shell V-Power Racing’s Fabian Coulthard, who had to watch teammate Scott McLaughlin take a record 17th victory of the season.
Coulthard had outqualified McLaughlin on both days at Pukekohe, but came away with a frustrating finish of 12th on Sunday.
The result also dropped Coulthard to fourth in the standings.
“I’m not sure how many times that kind of thing has to happen before we get it right,” he said.
“It’s frustrating not just for us, but many others too. We had a good car today, and I think we could have been on the podium quite easily, but it wasn’t to be.
“We’ve taken a hit today, but we know our package is good, we have a fantastic team and can now look forward to Bathurst.”