Post-race time penalties divide V8 Supercars paddock

Alex Premat was pinged with a 10s penalty after a jump start yet proceeded to run in second place behind team-mate Scott McLaughlin before he retired with throttle problems. Pic: Neville Bailey

Alex Premat was pinged with a 10s penalty after a jump start yet proceeded to run in second place behind team-mate Scott McLaughlin before he retired with throttle problems. Pic: Neville Bailey

Champion drivers Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander have led a chorus of disapproval over allowing drivers who jump the start to continue racing without immediate penalty in non-pitstop events.

V8 Supercars has moved away from the traditional drive-through penalty for false starters in recent seasons, instead holding offenders for 10 extra seconds at the completion of their first pitstop.

Although this has been widely accepted as a more fitting punishment for the crime, the situation has changed this year with the widespread move to sprint races.

In the absence of pitstops, the jump start penalty involves a 10 second addition to the offender’s final race time, meaning that they can continue to fight amongst the leaders – potentially changing the outcome.

Both Saturday races at last weekend’s ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe saw such an occurrence, with Alexandre Premat and Fabian Coulthard racing on after proving too eager at the start of Races 6 and 7 respectively.

Coulthard at one stage looked like he’d take the flag first but have the win taken off him post-race; a far from ideal situation.

While the Kiwi finally finished second on the road, and fell to 10th with the penalty, the issue of drivers racing out of position caused some angst amongst rivals, including Holden Racing Team star Garth Tander.

“I think the rule (the 10 second penalty) works really well in pit stop races (with drivers) being issued with a penalty immediately because you can race up to that point,” said Tander.

“But then effectively you are then placed in your correct position (when the penalty is served) whereas these races (Pukekohe) where we don’t have pit stops when people are penalised they are not in their correct positions and I don’t think that is right.

“I don’t have the answer. In the first race Premat was driving around with a 10 second penalty as well. You are following them and you get hot air in your brakes from a car that is effectively is not in your part of the race.”

Four-times champion Jamie Whincup also bought into the argument which has many agreeing that it is not the perfect policy.

“Garth is right. The nature of the rule is that it’s around pit stops,” Whincup said.

“You don’t want to give someone a drive-through for a small error. It writes their day off. The 10 second rule works for pit stops but sometimes we don’t have pit stops. I don’t know the answer. It’s not perfect.”

Pukekohe has traditionally been the seen of more false starts than usual due to its downhill pit straight.

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