Maro Engel’s public criticism of Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen following the Bathurst 12 Hour saw drivers and fans alike fire up on social media.
Van Gisbergen’s late-race crash triggered Engel to storm out of the team garage and into its transporter, before emerging to lament his co-driver's mistakes on the television broadcast.
The usually mild-mannered Engel later apologised to Van Gisbergen over the comments, describing them as “heat of the moment” and stressing his respect for the Kiwi’s talents.
I'm a great believer in our team, he's a great driver and I've apologised to Shane for my heat of the moment comments.— Maro Engel (@MaroEngel) February 5, 2017
The drama followed reports of friction in the joint Scott Taylor Motorsport/HTP Motorsport camp throughout the weekend as the drivers and engineers strived to improve car set-up.
Third driver Craig Baird Tweeted his support for Van Gisbergen on Sunday night, but was then himself accused of disrespecting the team by HTP technical chief Renaud Dufour.
@shanevg97 is a true champion on and off the track. You can't shit can a guy for giving 110%. Was proud to be his wingman.— Craig Baird MNZM (@cbairdo) February 5, 2017
While many fans passionately supported Van Gisbergen on social media, those to make light of Engel’s rage included factory Porsche driver Laurens Vanthoor.
DJR Team Penske Supercars star Scott McLaughlin was among those watching the drama unfold on television.
Fans stunned by the public airing of disharmony within the team also poked fun at the drama via Instagram.
The controversy was perhaps summed up best by Supercars pit reporter Greg Rust, who was also watching on.
Whatever your view on the intra team tension near the end of #B12hr we're all talking about it...proof straight talk is important to fans.— Greg Rust (@Thrusta1) February 5, 2017