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Holdsworth says McLaughlin 'driving in desperation'

Lee Holdsworth has labelled Scott McLaughlin's driving 'desperate' following their late-race clash at The Bend, as McLaughlin was left baffled as to why he was penalised for the contact.

Lee Holdsworth, Tickford and Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske collide

The two Ford drivers clashed while battling for third on the penultimate lap of today's opener at The Bend, after McLaughlin fired his Penske Mustang up the inside of Holdsworth at Turn 14.

The contact left Holdsworth facing the wrong way, while McLaughlin went on to finish third on the road, before being dumped to 15th thanks to a 15-second time penalty.

The incident didn't go down well with Holdsworth, who questioned why someone with a firm points lead would attempt a pass at that part of the circuit.

"I think he's driving in desperation, for some reason," he told the broadcast. "I don't why he would be, he's got the championship nearly in the bag. 

"It's a bit disappointing. I gave him room, I saw him go for the pass so I gave him a car width on the inside. He just tagged me mid-corner when there's as much load on the rear corner as possible and it spun pretty easily from there."

McLaughlin, meanwhile, was furious with the penalty, the reigning champion adamant that Holdsworth didn't give him enough room on the inside.

"For me it was on," he said. 

"I had a crack, I wanted to try and get on the podium with my teammate. But yeah, for some reason the stewards didn't agree with it. 

"I fully understand [the need to] be fully in control of your car and diving down the inside. The whole time I was in control, there was no lock-up on my front-left. The guy on the outside has to give you some space. It's up to him as well. 

"I couldn't go any further on the left. What do you do? I don't agree with it at all."

The McLaughlin/Holdsworth clash happened as McLaughlin was on a charge through the field after a costly run-in with Jamie Whincup one the opening lap.

The two title contenders were battling for the lead when Whincup locked his rears trying to pass McLaughlin into Turn 17, the pair both ending up off the road after side-to-side contact.

In that case both drivers were satisfied who was at fault, McLaughlin not holding a grudge as Whincup took the penalty on the chin.

"It's racing. I knew he was going to have a crack, I tried to give him the room to do it," said McLaughlin. 

"Obviously he must have hit the inside, locked a wheel and hit me. I knew he was probably going to be penalised after that, so it was about me trying to maximise what I had from then on. And I felt like we were doing that."

Whincup added: "Hey, we're racing. He made a little error in the corner before, so of course I was going to go down the inside. 

"You don't like to see two cars in the grass. He was about to spin, so I opened up the steering to straighten him up, hoping the guys would go 'keep going'. 


"But, yeah... the penalty is harsh, but it's not harsh. I would have probably made the same decision if I was upstairs. 


"It is what it is. I'm not going to hand it to him on a plate. I'm going to go hard trying to get some points back. Unfortunately it wasn't our day."


McLaughlin still finished today's race four places ahead of Whincup, his series advantage now 151 points with six races to go.

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