Ford Performance Racing boss Tim Edwards has reacted without sympathy to the complaints of star driver Will Davison that a pre-race agreement to give precedence to the team’s leading car in the Wilson Security Sandown 500 was not enforced.
Edwards was taken aback when told of Davison and co-driver Steve Owen’s stance.
“I am disappointed to hear about all these comments because I wasn’t aware of them,” he told v8supercars.com.au. “That will be my challenge to sort all that out.”
Owen spent a period early in the race bottled up behind an out-of-sequence Steve Richards in the Pepsi Max Falcon he shared with Mark Winterbottom, and then was forced to stack behind him at a pit stop, dropping to 22nd position.
Davison and Owen eventually fought back to third place in the 500km classic, but they made it clear how dissatisfied they were with the way the early part of the race panned out.
“I was disappointed with the way things went pear-shaped so early,” Davison said. “You have to try and stick to an agreement I suppose.”
Edwards said he was not aware of the pre-race agreement, which Owen described as “a bit like the old Multi 21”, a reference to Sebastian Vettel breaking team orders in this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix to pass Australian Mark Webber for the win.
But Edwards insisted he was not aware of any such agreement.
“I stood between the two race engineers and I didn’t hear any conversation along those lines at the time, so if that was the agreement then maybe the two race engineers could have communicated that.
“I am not going to go any further into it; I will sort out Will when I next see him.”
He said ordering Richards to give way to Owen would have constituted team orders, “which are against the rules in our paddock”.
Edwards said FPR abided by a basic on-track rule, which is each team car races all 27 other cars on the track. This rule came into being after Winterbottom and teammate David Reynolds crashed into each other while racing for position at the SKYCITY Triple Crown in Darwin.
“They can choose to accept racing 27 other cars when it suits them and clearly not when it doesn’t suit them,” Edwards said.
“The reality is we got a third place today, obviously everybody is a little bit disappointed with things that went wrong during the day, but unfortunately stacking is just a part of this category. Suck it up and get used to it, everybody else does.
“It is pretty simple really – every time any driver in the pitlane has to stack they are aggrieved, aren’t they,” Edwards said. “It’s an unfortunate reality, we are not NASCAR, we don’t have a pit bay for everybody.
“It is only the result we are talking about. The reality is they stacked because they didn’t swap position on the track. Why didn’t Steve Owen pass Steve Richards?”
Asked that question in the post-race press conference, Owen had said: “I could have probably bombed down the inside and taken out second or third in the Championship but that’s not really my style to do that. So I had to eat humble pie for a while.”
Adding further controversy to FPR’s star-crossed race, Winterbottom’s shot at a podium was cruelled when the left front wheel was twice cross-threaded in the final pit stop. It was the latest in a long line of pit stop dramas the team has had over the years.
“We have had a good run for two or three months,” Edwards said. “We have been over all of our wheel nuts and spindles a thousand times, we do pit stop practice every day of the week, we work with the guys and encourage them in pit stops.
“It’s unfortunate and I hope it doesn’t happen again this year. But having been through everything mechanical and supported the crew as much as possible there is nothing else we can physically do.”