Whincup's Bathurst appeal embarrassing the sport
The Bathurst 1000 result is still up in the air because Supercars over-complicated things with their redressing rules.
It has been nearly two weeks since the incident but Jamie Whincup's altercation with Scott McLaughlin at Bathurst and the subsequent crash that involved Garth Tander is still dragging on through the appeals process and completely embarrassing the sport.
This is motorsport not America's Cup - results are determined on the track not in courtrooms yet here we are approaching the next round with a championship-altering decision still pending.
The mess began and ends with Whincup. He made a slight error in trying to over-take McLaughlin's Volvo and pushed the Kiwi off the track. As per the way Supercars have ruled in recent seasons Whincup only needed to allow the Volvo to re-enter in front of him to escape the wrath of race control. But complicating the matter was Tander's Holden, who was trying to get past the slowing Whincup as McLaughlin re-entered the race track.
In all reality all three drivers contributed to the accident that saw McLaughlin and Tander's race end right at that moment. Whincup slowed on the racing line to allow McLaughlin back in front of him, McLaughlin entered the race track too fast and was trying to stay in front of both the slowing Whincup and the approaching Tander while Tander was trying to take advantage of the situation to leapfrog both drivers.
Race control gave Whincup a driving standards infringement, penalizing him 15 seconds, which when added at the end of the race saw him drop from first to 11th.
His Red Bull Racing team appealed the decision and over the past week and a half part of that appeal has been tossed out while we await the verdict on the other. There appears to be a serious misunderstanding of the rules by either Red Bull Racing, Supercars themselves or both after various releases seem to contradict what verdict can be handed down the Supercars Court of Appeal.
Later tonight a call will be made and it will have a huge impact on the overall championship let alone the race. If Whincup gets his points back from Bathurst he will go to this weekend's Gold Coast event leading the championship. If he doesn't get them back he could go to the holiday strip up to 139 points behind teammate Shane Van Gisbergen. There is a possibility he gets some points back which could see him fall somewhere in the middle.
If Van Gisbergen has a 139 point championship lead he might drive quite differently on a circuit that favours his style than he would should be behind chasing points instead. Then there is poor old Will Davison and Jono Webb, who were awarded the race win on the day. It is possible they could have that win taken from. The whole situation is messy and it was so unavoidable.
All that Supercars needs do with the redressing rule is to tell drivers not to self-govern and to wait for race control to order drivers to redress rather than do it themselves. If more than two cars are involved a redressing won't work and a drive through penalty is the only logical option.
Whincup made only a minor error but his error impacted significantly on two other drivers. He shouldn't be able to benefit from that. The fact McLaughlin and Tander contributed to a secondary accident is irrelevant - Whincup wasn't able to correct a mistake he made but he still needs to be penalized for his driving infringement.
Red Bull Racing argues that the error didn't match the punishment. Heck, you make a small error anywhere at Bathurst and the punishment is severe - just ask any of the drivers that ended up with cars in the wall.
The right championship result was found on race day with Whincup penalized - hopefully commonsense applies and this whole incident can be put to bed and new rules laid down to prevent it from happening again.
- Dale Budge, NZ Herald