Kelly: Judicial system ‘leaps and bounds’ ahead

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/02/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus - Lewis Isaacs

Nissan Motorsport driver, team owner and Supercars Commissioner Todd Kelly believes the revised judiciary and driving code is a significant step forward for the sport. 

All drivers and team representatives were briefed on the changes to the judicial system and decision making process at Sydney Motorsport Park yesterday.

They have been invited to provide feedback on the draft driver conduct regulations with modifications to be considered before the Clipsal 500 Adelaide next week.

Key changes to the judiciary include a splitting of the Investigating Officer/Driving Standards Officer duties and the appointment of Craig Baird in the role as Driving Standards Advisor.

The redress ruling which triggered chaos at Bathurst last year has meanwhile been scrapped, while in-race penalties will only be handed out when one driver is clearly at fault.

Click here for a full explanation of the changes.

Kelly played a central role in the 18-month analysis of the judiciary and driving code, working on a Commission subcommittee that led the overhaul. 

“I think we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last year,” Kelly told Supercars.com of the changes.

“A lot of effort has gone in from a lot of people to arrive with what is a far better and more transparent process.

“There seems to be pretty much unanimous agreement from the drivers I’ve spoken to (that it has been improved).

“It won’t affect the racing but it will be a far better process."

While consulted during the formulation of the regulations, the driving group and the teams have been invited to provide further feedback before the changes are locked in.

Drivers approached by Supercars.com at Sydney Motorsport Park were generally supportive with some keen to provide their feedback before Adelaide.

The removal of the redress rule was the most topical, with 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom rejoicing at the change.

Although redressing incidents was never officially in the rules, it was permitted in certain circumstances last year.

“I hated the redress and I’m glad it’s gone,” Winterbottom told Supercars.com.

“It was destined for disaster and that came to a head at Bathurst last year.

“The way they’ve come up with this system is really good.

“Some days we won’t be happy, but if there’s consistency that’s all we can ask for.”

Others such as team-mate Chaz Mostert was more reserved, preferring to give the system time in racing conditions.

While Supercars has vowed to adopt a ‘play-on’ approach during races unless one driver is clearly at fault, post-race penalties may still be applied after incidents are fully investigated.

“It’s going to take a bit to get our heads around it,” Mostert told Supercars.com.

“It may change the way some people race. We need to promote racing but also be allowed to make mistakes without a big penalty at the end."

In a move designed to take focus away from an individual, Baird will not be the front-man in drivers’ briefings or post-race investigations like his predecessor Jason Bargwanna.

The Kiwi’s judgement on incidents will still be an important element in the system, however, as he will advise the stewards on possible penalties.

James Courtney says that, as with all previous changes of driving standards chiefs, it will take time for the driving group to understand Baird’s position.

“Everyone would admit that last year there were calls that didn’t go the right way and it had to evolve,” Courtney told Supercars.com.

“But we’re not going to know how well the new system works until we roll out and see how Bairdo views things.

“Hopefully he views it from a racer’s point of view rather than a conservative rulebook approach.

“Ultimately we don’t want to over-police it and all be too scared to pass in case you touch and get a penalty. 

“It’s a fine line but I’m sure they’ll nail it.”

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