V8 Supercars has formally moved to make its pre-season Sydney Motorsport Park test compulsory for drivers next year ahead of the event’s controversial clash with the Bathurst 12 Hour.
The final draft of the 2015 V8 Supercars operations manual recently released to teams features key changes to wording around the test day and the definition of a primary driver.
While previously only declaring that the test is compulsory for teams, it now also specifically stipulates mandatory participation for primary drivers.
“All Teams entered in the VCS must participate, and must ensure that their Primary Drivers participate, for the duration of all V8 Supercars compulsory Test days as nominated by V8 Supercars,” reads the revised rule D1.12.1.
The formal change follows months of heated discussions between V8 Supercars and Nissan, which continues to push for its star driver, Rick Kelly, to be exempt from the test in order to race at Bathurst.
The debate has included assertions that sending Kelly to Bathurst instead of Sydney would result in the former V8 Supercars champion and two-time Bathurst 1000 winner being prevented from driving in the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
Notably, an adjustment to the Primary Driver definition ensures that any change of driver between the pre-season test and the Clipsal 500 would now have to be approved by V8 Supercars.
The definition previously read: “Primary Driver means the Driver who is entered to drive a Car at the first Sprint Event of a Season with the intention of competing for the entire Season.”
It has now been adjusted to read: “Primary Driver means the Driver that a Team nominates in its Series Registration Form as the Driver of its Car at all Meetings and compulsory Test days and at any Season launch events.
“Once nominated in its Series Registration Form, a Team may only change the Primary Driver or substitute a new or replacement Driver as its Primary Driver with the prior written consent of V8 Supercars.”
While a spokesman from Nissan Australia declined to comment when contacted by Speedcafe.com, it is understood that the company remains hopeful of gaining a waiver from V8 Supercars for Kelly.
Nissan’s outspoken global motorsport manager, Darren Cox, recently lashed out at V8 Supercars over the situation during a interview with British outlet Radio Le Mans, which supplies commentary services to the 12 Hour.
Cox confirmed that a lack of access to Nissan Motorsport’s Australian drivers and equipment has seen the company elect against a planned expansion of its Bathurst program to two cars for 2015.
“It’s another case of the politics getting in the way of sport,” said Cox.
“I think there’s only one loser and that will be the sport unfortunately.
“If V8s think they’re the only game in town, then things are changing down there and I think the Bathurst 12 Hour will only grow and grow.
“I think V8s taking them on is the wrong thing to do. I think there’s room enough for both championships.
“This one will rumble on I think,” he added.
“We made our point clear in the strongest possible terms, both locally and globally and it’s not being resolved so for me it’s a black mark on the championship.”
V8 Supercars has rebranded its February 7-8 event as a “Super Test” for 2015, expanding the pre-season hit-out to two days.
It will include a competition element on the Sunday for the first time, with each driver completing a timed two-lap run, including a pitstop for tyres, against the clock.
Teams will also be required to take part in a televised launch of their 2015 liveries at Sydney Motorsport Park, but are permitted to reveal their new looks prior to the test if they choose.