Tickford found back-up driver amid Moffat ban fears

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/10/2018
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Just hours before taking victory in the opening leg of the Vodafone Gold Coast 600, there were serious doubts over whether co-driver James Moffat would be allowed to compete.

News of a physical altercation between Moffat and rival Glen Wood in the Porsche paddock following the morning’s Carrera Cup race had Tickford Racing scrambling to find a back-up.

Tickford boss Tim Edwards has confirmed Dunlop Super2 Series driver Shae Davies was put on standby before Saturday’s race as part of a contingency plan in case Moffat was banned.

At the circuit yesterday as a spectator, 28-year-old Davies returned to his nearby home to fetch his helmet ahead of a possible last-minute switch.

Moffat was cleared to race on Saturday afternoon when the Carrera Cup stewards’, still gathering evidence, elected to defer their hearing to Sunday morning.

Some doubt still remained over his Sunday participation, however, until a ruling this morning declared a ban from the final Carrera Cup race and a $5,000 fine for “physical abuse”, but no change to his Supercars race eligibility.

Edwards was first informed there could be an issue prior to the Saturday Top 10 Shootout and immediately sprung into action.

“You instantly think that if it was true and he did actually get his licence suspended on the spot, we could be without a driver for the race,” Edwards explained.

“You instantly think about who you could put in. You look at the Carrera Cup grid, what Super2 drivers might live in South-East Queensland, et cetera.

“You’ve got to think that they’d have to have a Superlicence to start with and so you pretty quickly come up with a short list of people who could do it.

“Phone calls started to happen, because we needed to, and then it’d be a process of seeing the stewards and trying to get approval, no doubt starting from the rear of the grid.

“We absolutely had to start thinking about it.”

Under the plan devised, the team would have asked for dispensation to switch Mostert’s 2017 co-driver Steve Owen back into the Supercheap car, with Davies then joining Richie Stanaway in the RABBLE.club entry.

Shae Davies

“It was going to involve some shifting around. I was thinking 'Steve Owen has worked with Chaz in the past, so they know how they fit in the car, etcetera',” Edwards continued.

“It made sense to maybe move Steve into that car and put someone else with Richie.”

Pitlane chatter about the severity of the altercation between Moffat and Wood – who was ultimately sanctioned via a $500 fine for verbal abuse – varied wildly.

Asked if suggestions Moffat was to be banned was a case of rumour spiralling out of control, Edwards said: “I don’t know, (but) I was out of control when I found out about it!

“I was slightly calmer after I’d spoken to Moff and realised it was just a misunderstanding.

“At the point I first spoke to Moff, he knew nothing about a stewards hearing, no one had rung him, he knew nothing.

“There might have been pitlane rumour going around, but the person involved knew nothing about it. He was standing here eating an ice cream watching a Shootout.”

Moffat and Mostert after their race win

Despite the high of Saturday’s win – Tickford’s first for 12 months – some doubt lingered over Moffat's participation in the Sunday race until the ruling was handed down this morning.

“I was quietly confident he would be racing today, but you don’t know,” said Edwards.

“I can’t put the thoughts into the stewards’ minds, but from what I understood about the incident, I didn’t think it’d be that severe that it’d stop him racing for us.

“But until he walked out of the stewards’ hearing... he sent me the text this morning, so I knew straight away whether we had to enact a contingency or not.”

As for Davies, he’ll again be a spectator for Sunday’s race, before finishing his Super2 season in Newcastle next month.

“The good thing with Shae is he drives the exact same car, pretty much, in Super2,” said Edwards, referring to the Tickford-built, Paul Morris Motorsport FG X.

“Fortunately he wasn’t already five beers in (when we approached him at the track on Saturday), which would have scuppered him pretty quickly!”

Mostert and Moffat will start second in Sunday's race, the final leg of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.

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