A 25-second time penalty has stripped Shane van Gisbergen of his Saturday win at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500, and cost him critical ground in the championship.
Stewards have confirmed the time penalty this morning following last night’s investigation into an alleged refuelling breach at his third pitstop.
The fuel hose remained connected when the car was being dropped to the ground, which contravenes regulations.
Van Gisbergen’s penalty drops him from first to fifth in the race result, behind Scott McLaughlin, David Reynolds, Jamie Whincup and Scott Pye.
It also extends McLaughlin’s lead over van Gisbergen in the championship from two to 53 points with just one, 150-point race remaining.
If van Gisbergen wins today’s 250km race, McLaughlin now needs only to finish sixth to claim his maiden Supercars title.
The stewards’ report notes Triple Eight sought “a team penalty only”, rather than a sanction on van Gisbergen which officials deemed “inappropriate”.
They concluded: “While we accept that the infringement was the result of a mistake and that no sporting advantage was intended, we agree with the DRD that by permitting the coupling to remain connected while a Car is lowered allows the Car to take on more fuel than it otherwise could.
“The volume of fuel in this case may have been small but the outcome of the Race demonstrates the potential for fine tolerances in full volumes to affect the results.
“Even though several occurred some time in the past, we have had regard to the Penalties applied to breaches of this Rule previously. Save for two breaches where the circumstances were not comparable, a breach of the Rule has consistently resulted in a Pit Lane Penalty being applied.”
Van Gisbergen had taken the lead two corners from home on Saturday afternoon, when McLaughlin’s Shell Ford ran out of fuel.