Triple Eight duo disqualified, Waters inherits win
Repco Supercars Championship
By James Pavey
Cam Waters and Tickford Racing have inherited the Thrifty Newcastle 500 Race 1 win after both Red Bull Ampol Camaros were disqualified.
Tickford and Walkinshaw Andretti United lodged appeals against Triple Eight following Saturday’s race.
Stewards have confirmed the time penalty this morning following last night’s investigation into an alleged technical breach.
Shane van Gisbergen led Broc Feeney in a provisional Red Bull Ampol one-two, with Waters crossing the line third in his #6 Monster Mustang.
WAU driver Chaz Mostert came home fourth in his #25 Mobil 1 Optus Ford ahead of pole-sitter Brodie Kostecki (#99 Coca-Cola Camaro).
A hearing was held on Saturday night after the Tickford and WAU appeals were received.
Tickford had appealed against cars #88 and #97, and WAU against #97, regarding the driver cooling systems in the two Camaros.
The Deputy Race Directors also alleged a technical breach of rule C16.2 regarding the driver cooling system.
Triple Eight have confirmed it will appeal the outcome.
After the Hearing was closed by the Stewards at 2005hrs, the Stewards made the following decision after due deliberation:
Offence: Rule C188.8.131.52 of the 2023 Supercars Operations Manual.
Each Charge is upheld.
Each Protest is admissible.
Each Protest is upheld in so far as the Cars were in breach of Rule C184.108.40.206.
The Protests by Tickford Racing alleging the Cars breached Rule D3.5 is dismissed.
That Car 88 was in breach of Rule C220.127.116.11 in Race 1.
That Car 88 is disqualified from Race 1.
That Car 97 was in breach of Rule C18.104.22.168 in Race 1.
The Car 97 is disqualified from Race 1.
That the classification for Race 1 be issued with Cars 88 & 97 noted as disqualified.
Each other Car be classified as though Cars 88 & 97 had not competed in the Race.
The Protest Fees paid in each Protest be returned to the respective Competitor.
Division C of the Supercars Operations Manual is titled “VCS Technical Rules” and it was not in dispute between the parties that it applies with respect to the eligibility of Cars to compete in the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship (therefore it applies to Car 88 and Car 97 for their eligibility to compete in Race 1).
Rule C2.1 reminds those involved in the Championship of the requirement for a Car to comply at all times with the Rules and mandates that it is the Competitor’s obligation to ensure compliance of their Car with the conditions of eligibility contained in the Rules throughout each Event.
The Stewards pay particular attention to Rule C1.1 (Preamble), which provides overall guidance for those involved in the Championship and specifically to sub-rules C1.1.4 (No part of a Car may be modified and/or deleted and/or added to unless permitted by the Rules) and C1.1.6 (For clarification, in these Rules, unless it says that you can, then you cannot).
It was not disputed by the Respondent that the components in issue in its Cars were additional systems placed into the Cars. The stated aim was to provide additional Driver comfort for their safety. This system was in addition to the Chillout Driver Cooling system. Again, the Stewards note Rule C1.1.5, which states that the primary function of any component is the overriding factor in determining its compliance with the Rules.
It was accepted by the Respondent that the systems in issue were not placed in the position specified by Rule C22.214.171.124 (mounted within the cockpit utilising the mounting points designated in the GSD for the passenger seat). Therefore, the obligation is on the Respondent to establish that the systems were allowed by the Rules.
Rule C2.3 requires that in the case of a dispute about a Car’s compliance with any of the provisions of the Rules, that the matter is to be referred to the Stewards by the RD or DRD for determination (which has occurred) and that during any Hearing, if the Stewards determine that the matter is of a technically complex nature the Stewards will refer the technical issue to the HOM for a determination and that the determination of the HOM will be unconditionally binding on any Stewards’ Hearing in regard to that issue.
The HOM’s clear determination is that the systems in issue do not comply with the Rules. The Stewards are therefore duty bound to make that finding.
While that finding is final, it does not end all issues in dispute.
Firstly, the Respondent submitted that it considered that permission had been granted by the HOM to install the systems in its Cars during a discussion on Thursday 9 March between its Authorised Representative and the HOM. Mr Dutton said that discussion happened in its Pit Garage when the HOM came to inspect its Cars in relation to other matters that the Respondent had been in discussions with the HOM about. This is in the context that the Respondent is the homologation team for the Chevrolet Camaro and that the 2023 model Cars were until shortly before the Event started still in the homologation phase and designs of some systems in Cars were being negotiated.
The HOM confirmed that he did attend the Respondent’s Pit Garage on Thursday. He said the primary purposes for his attendance there was to inspect the modifications the Respondent had made to its Cars which had been the subject of the prior discussions with the Respondent. These modifications did not anyway relate to the systems that are now in issue. He acknowledged that during his inspection, Mr Dutton made some reference to Driver Cooling systems and showed him some tubing, which he inspected. However, the HOM stated that while he did this, he did not grant permission to the Respondent to install and use the systems in exception to the Rules and that if Mr Dutton thought otherwise, then he was mistaken.
The Stewards find that the HOM did not grant his permission to the Respondent to install the systems. We find that there was a misunderstanding between the HOM and Mr Dutton as to the purpose of their discussions on 9 March as it related to the systems in issue. It is important to record here that the Stewards find both the HOM and Mr Dutton’s evidence about this issue as genuine and credible. We accept that there was a miscommunication error as between them. However, the onus is on the Respondent to establish the systems are in accordance with the Rules and we find that they have not satisfied us that is the case.
We also address the grounds of Tickford Racing’s protest alleging the Respondent was in breach of Rule D3.5 (It is not permitted to use dry ice other than in Driver cooling systems at any time during an Event) for adding the prohibited substance to Car 88 and Car 97 during their Pit Stops during the Race.
The Stewards have accepted the primary purpose of the systems in issue in the Respondent’s Cars is for cooling of the Driver. As the use of dry ice is permitted for that purpose (assuming the system containing the dry ice otherwise is in conformity with the Rules), the grounds of protest on this basis must fail. However, the primary ground of protest is the non-conformance with the Rules of the systems, and so, the Protests otherwise are upheld.
The Stewards have carefully considered the penalty to be applied.
The Stewards are guided by that as well as the generally accepted principle in motor racing, that the penalty for a breach of a technical regulation is disqualification.
While on its face it is a harsh penalty, it is the appropriate penalty to be applied and the Stewards do so.
It is important to record that the Stewards find that there was no intention on the part of the Respondent to compete with a non-compliant Car and that it was an honest, though mistaken, belief that it had the permission of the HOM to install the systems in issue. Despite the honest, though mistaken belief, the breach has still occurred, and the penalty is both required and appropriate.