Exclusion and fine for Rullo after near-miss
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Alex Rullo has been excluded from qualifying and hit with a $10,000 fine following a near-miss with Garth Tander at Hidden Valley.
The 17-year-old swerved onto the racing line as he left pitlane during the session, straight into the path of Garth Tander who was approaching at high-speed.
Although not affecting the hot lap he had just completed, Tander had to take quick evasive action in order to avoid a major incident.
Rullo will start from pitlane following his exclusion from the session, while half of his $10,000 fine has been suspended until the end of the year.
“When these things happen they have a job to impose a penalty,” Rullo told Supercars.com when asked of his opinion of the punishment.
“Starting from the back is what normally happens but that wouldn’t have affected us too much.
“Starting from pitlane won’t be too bad. There’s normally a bit of carnage in the first few laps so I think I’ll have some time to catch up.
“Obviously they’ve got to impose a penalty when this sort of thing happens to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’ve learnt my lesson from it.”
Rullo said he accepted full responsibility for the mistake, apologising directly to Tander.
“I just made the silly mistake of not checking my mirrors for the last time and basically there were no blue flags or radio calls,” he explained, having been in a train of cars as he exited the pits.
“I saw (Jason) Brighty pulling out and he halted and almost stopped so I went to go around him and all the cars ahead were all weaving on the racing line so I just assumed there was no one coming. It was my mistake.
“I went straight down to see Garth after I got my debrief done and apologised to him. He was a bit pissed off but rightly so, I would be too. I apologised to him and he accepted it.”
Team owner Lucas Dumbrell said the team also had to accept responsibility for not informing Rullo early enough to warn him that Tander was about to come past.
“Really it was our fault as a team that we didn’t tell him that Garth was on a hot lap,” he said.
“It’s the team’s role to make Alex’s job as easy as possible and we let him down by not communicating it to him.”
Tander had been relatively relaxed about the incident when speaking directly after the session.
“It was like Sydney traffic. They all just went everywhere,” he said.
“As I was crossing the line I could see them all coming out of pitlane and Rullo changed lanes straight into the fast lane.
“It was almost top speed there. It didn’t hurt the lap but it’s hard to pull the car up when someone does that… and then he weaved at me! It certainly got the heart-rate up.”