What a massive week in motorsport, to be honest I’m not sure if its been good or bad but its certainly got my attention!
I’ve sat back and listened to all your thoughts and opinions the last fortnight and not had the opportunity to reply while I’ve been muzzled due to the appeal. So here are my thoughts and opinions if you’re interested, written by me, unedited or grammar checked by a media person, as raw as it gets.
Last nights appeal was a non event and was all over in the first 10min. Basically you can only appeal a decision by the stewards if there has been a hearing, while there was an “enquiry” during the race between who I guess was Bargs and the stewards, there was no “hearing”. Therefore, when T8 went to the stewards after the race to express that we weren’t happy with our penalty and wanted to appeal it, we should have been told we couldn’t do anything about it, end of story. Instead we were allowed to fill out the appeal paper work, pay the 11k fee and lodge the appeal. Last nights ruling took everyone by surprise and has made it clear that any penalty given out by the stewards during the race is the same as a free kick in footy, it can’t be questioned.
To think this whole debacle, and I call it a debacle - Tekno not being able to celebrate properly like they should, Supercars Australia (SCA) branding us un-Australian and playing dirty by slamming us in the media, the TV crews cutting radio audio and pasting in over the top of footage laps later in an attempt to further fuel the ‘I don’t listen to my team’ criticism, all the man hours from both T8, CAMS, SCA preparing for the appeal, could have all been avoided straight after the race, dam!
Sometimes you can watch a replay and change your opinion of what went on but I’ve now watched the incident where contact was made between Scotty and I at the chase 1000 times and my opinion has not changed. The move was on, Scotty made a mistake out of Forrest Elbow which allowed me to make a run, he half blocked down at the chase which he’s fully entitled to do and allowed me racing room on the inside to execute the pass. I was well and truly up the inside of him and when contact was made in the middle of the corner, I was on the apex, on the right trajectory and fully in control of car 88.
As the late great Ayrton Senna once said, if you don’t take an on track opportunity when it presents itself, you’re no longer a racing driver. Well said in my opinion. The day I don’t take an opportunity like the one that presented itself down at the chase on Sunday is the day I’ll happily hang my helmet up and give my spot to some young kid that will have a go.
Where I believe the stewards made an error was them assuming I was out of control. While I find this offensive for someone to think I wasn’t in control of my car which I’d been belting around the greatest track on earth in all weekend as hard as I could, I can see how they’ve confused the cars yaw (or oversteer as we commonly know it) as out of control. However, if sliding the rear of the car to help it turn is out of control, then majority of us in that weekends top 10 shootout should have been penalised due to wreckless driving as I’ve never seen so much in-control sliding in all my life. This stuff is fully intentional and is something we all should be grateful for and appreciate as it shows just how far and on the limit the sport has become.
Moving forward, I’d love the opportunity to work further with SCA on helping them make decisions on how to judge correctly whether a car is driving the driver or the driver is driving the car. I would also like to be able to help them with the penalty process.
I will say from the offset that SCA have done a great job and put in a massive amount of time and resource to making the rules clearer and easier to adjudicate and we have come a bloody long way in the last 18 months. The whole 3 tier penalty system from 1 to 3 has merit and can work well. I feel my penalty at Bathurst though showed we still have a fair way to go refining it.
While I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty, we need to make sure the penalty options (be it redress, time or points) for each of the grades (1, 2 or 3) are applied in a manner that returns consistency across the board. At Bathurst, a car took out another car destroying its race and the stewards decided it was a grade 3 offense (the highest); that car copped a 25 point penalty post race. The stewards deemed my incident as a grade 2 and applied a 15 second time penalty during the race. This not only completely took me out of contention of the biggest race of the year, but resulted in a 156 point penalty, 6 times greater than a grade 3. It would have been cheaper to do a PLP. I think you can see where our frustration came from!
Yes, it was the one that got away but like always I’m so proud of my crew which includes PD for fighting hard and being in serious contention yet again. I’m also very grateful that they all backed me 100% in the decisions I made to win us the race that day.
My VA flight to the Gold Coast is just about to land so I hope to see you all on the weekend for another cracking weekend of motorsport action.