Brad Jones Racing’s disastrous weekend at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 has ended with its Tim Slade/Ash Walsh entry being stripped of its top 10 finish.
The #75 Freightliner Holden took the flag ninth but has been excluded for breaching the driving-time regulations.
Co-driver Walsh started the race and, after being turned around on the opening lap, remained at the wheel until the car’s third pitstop on lap 85.
That immediately drew questions over the minimum driver-time rules, which stipulate both a maximum driving distance and minimum effective resting time for each driver.
Slade took over the car for the final stint to the flag, which fell at lap 125 on the time certain cut-off, meaning Walsh spent just 40 of the scheduled 161 laps ‘resting’, rather than the required 54.
The relevant rules state;
“126.96.36.199 the total driving distance for each Driver must not exceed two-thirds (2/3) of the scheduled race distance; and
“188.8.131.52 the total effective resting time for each Driver must be equal to at least one-third (1/3) of the scheduled race distance.
“184.108.40.206 the scheduled race distance will always be considered as the number laps listed in the Supplementary Regulations, irrespective of a time certain finish being referenced and/or applied unless, at the sole discretion of the Stewards, a reduced distance is necessary.”
The stewards' report noted BJR "submitted that there was no breach of the Rule because there was no breach of the maximum permitted laps raced or continuous driving time by either driver.
"As Ash Walsh completed only 85 laps, which was calculated to be approximately 53% of the scheduled race distance, his effective resting time was for the balance of the Race (47%) and therefore greater than 1/3rd of the scheduled race distance."
However stewards' did not accept that interpretation of the rule and elected to exclude the Commodore, a decision BJR has not appealed.
"The Stewards find that the Rule D8. 4.6.2. requires a driver much have an effective resting time of 54 actual laps (being 1/3rd of the scheduled race distance)," their findings surmised.
"By resting only 40 laps of the race, Ash Walsh did not have sufficient effective resting time to comply with the Rule.
"We reject the interpretation of the Rule contended by the Respondent (BJR) and find the Respondent in breach of the Rule.
"The Respondent submitted that the Stewards should acknowledge that there was a valid basis for their interpretation and therefore it is a technical breach as opposed to a deliberate or blatant breach.
"The Respondent submitted that the circumstances of this matter were sufficiently different from previous similar cases to justify the Stewards to make a more lenient approach when imposing a penalty.
"The Respondent submitted that a Reprimand should be a sufficient penalty."
It is the second year in a row that a car has been disqualified for breaching rule 220.127.116.11 after Erebus made the same error in the similarly-shortened race 12 months ago.
The disqualification compounds a horror weekend for BJR in which its Tim Blanchard/Todd Hazelwood Holden was destroyed in Saturday’s co-driver heat and failed to start the 500.
Its Nick Percat/Macauley Jones entry finished as the last of the runners in 23rd on Sunday after losing laps in the garage due to a vibration.