‘It was a true display of that guy’s character’

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 10/04/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Fabian Coulthard’s unapologetic response to his role in a 12-car pile-up at Symmons Plains has irked rival Rick Kelly, whose car was destroyed in the incident.

Coulthard was penalised 35 points for ‘reckless driving’ that shoved Kelly into the left-side wall at Turn 3 on the second lap of Saturday's race.

Kelly’s damaged Nissan slowed after contact with the fence as part of a chain reaction that dragged in the bulk of the cars behind.

With his Nissan not expected to race again, Kelly was a spectator on Sunday, nursing a sore leg as he missed his first Supercars race since 2002.

While accepting Coulthard’s actions as the sort of mistake that happens in close-quarters racing, Kelly was left bemused by the Kiwi’s aloof attitude in the aftermath.

“People make mistakes, everyone makes them at some point in their career,” Kelly told Supercars.com.

“I’ve taken results off Fabian before, made a mistake and crashed into him, and I’m always the first one down there to apologise.

“It’s interesting that Fabian said nothing to anyone, even though he was the cause of it. It shows what sort of character he is.

“You don’t need to be friends with anyone in the field and that’s not what we’re out there for, but you’d expect something considering what that created for all these teams.

“We’re down a car because of his driving. Like I say, you can’t hold a grudge, but it was a true display of that guy’s character.”

Coulthard gave his version of the incident in the post-race press conference on Sunday.

“My view on it was that the car oversteered, I caught the oversteer, and my left-hand mirror was folded in and I’ve bumped into Rick,” he said.

“At the end of the day I was catching a slide and there happened to be a car there at the same point. It was wrong place, wrong time.”

Tasmania SW4320

Kelly said that side-to-side contact from Coulthard at Turn 3 came after a frantic opening lap.

“When you look at the vision you can see the frustration in Fabian’s driving,” he said.

“He laid into a couple of people before he eventually put me in the fence.”

Coulthard’s hit on Kelly caused the Nissan to strike the wall and Tim Slade’s Freightliner Holden to subsequently clout the back of both cars.

Stewards made clear in their findings that Coulthard’s penalty was based around putting Kelly and Slade out of the race, rather than the full pile-up that ensued.

“I don’t think it would have been fair to do that,” Kelly said of whether the full aftermath should have been factored into Coulthard’s penalty.

“At the end of the day if Cam Waters didn’t turn Garth (Tander) around, and not to say it was all his fault, but that incident is what turned me around and created the entire aftermath.

“That wasn’t Fabian’s fault. I think they did a good job in isolating that (contact between Coulthard and Kelly) as the cause and doing him for that.

“You can’t do him for the entire thing and the reactions and decision making processes of those other 10 drivers.”

Coulthard cast aside the Sunday morning investigation into the Race 3 drama and subsequent penalty to win the afternoon’s 200km Race 4.

The 35-point penalty, however, prevented him from taking the championship lead from Shane van Gisbergen, who he now trails by 20 points.


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