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Supercars to evaluate 'ambiguous' team orders rule

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Supercars to evaluate 'ambiguous' team orders rule
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Oct 29, 2019, 7:01 AM

The Supercars Commission will evaluate the category's existing team orders rule, as a response to the stewards' findings from the Bathurst 1000 scandal.

DJR Team Penske was initially charged with a team orders (Rule D24) breach for the Fabian Coulthard go-slow instruction, only for that to be later changed by Confederation of Australian Motor Sport stewards to an Obligation of Fairness charge, taken from the International Sporting Code.

According to the stewards report, the change was pinned on the "ambiguous terms" of Rule D24, the terms of which officials deemed "unclear" with the current wording.

As it stands, Rule D24 reads: '24.1.1 means an instruction to a driver or team member, either verbal or otherwise the effect of which may interfere with a race result.

'24.1.2 it is not permitted for any sponsor, supplier, entity or related entity, including an automobile manufacturer, importer or their representative to impose or seek to impose team orders, on any team.'

The wording of the rule was changed at the end of 2017, removing the term 'team' from the second sub-rule to better reflect its primary intention – to stop seperate teams linked by a manufacturer from working together during a race.

That was clarified by Supercars late last year, after a confusing incident at Pukekohe that saw Triple Eight switch its two drivers around under the guise of a fuel shortage for Jamie Whincup.

The category will now take another look at the rule, and several others, based on a recommendation from the stewards after the DJRTP ruling.

"The stewards have asked us to go away and have a look at the resolution between the International Sporting Code and the rulebook," said Supercars CEO Sean Seamer.

"That's something that the Commission will pick up to make sure that that's tight. Obviously there's that hierarchy and we have to operate under the FIA rules and they're really clear on that kind of behaviour.

"I think that's what implied in the stewards statement. We'll review that at the Commission and see what needs to be done in terms of that reconciliation between the ISC and the rulebook.

"There are a couple of points that they wanted us to look at. That's the next step. [The Commission] sets the rules, they review the rules, and any rule changes they need to go through."

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Supercars will also work with CAMS on a review of the Safety Car procedure, following two high-profile incidents during SC periods in as many rounds, starting with the New Zealand controversy.

"The technical department is working with race control to see what technologies and processes could be put in place to improve the deployment and management of the field under a Safety Car," said Seamer.

"We'll have to wait and see what they come back with, because there is a bit of work to be done on reconciliation of manual flagging and automated systems.

"But it would be remiss of us not to review it, given the impact it's having on the delivery of the product to the fans. So of course we've got to take a look at it and see if we can do better."

Seamer added that everything from Virtual Safety Car-style systems to pitlane closures, as trialled at Phillip Island this year, will be considered, and could be put in place as early as 2020.

"Everything will get thrown into the pot and we'll go through all of those ideas as part of the process of what we might want to do differently or improve next year," he said.

"We have got to careful how quickly we deploy things, no matter how good the idea is, because the primary focus has to be around the safety of the marshals, the drivers and the spectators.

"[But] if we arrive at a good idea, and we're able to get alignment with the FIA and CAMS, then there's no point waiting."

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Series Supercars
Author Andrew van Leeuwen