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No magic bullet for B12H seedings solution

Gordon Lomas

Friday 6th February, 2015 - 9:00am

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Driver seedings remain a contentious issue ahead of Sunday's Bathurst 12 Hour

Driver seedings remain a contentious issue ahead of Sunday’s Bathurst 12 Hour

A solution for the contentious Bathurst 12 Hour seeding formula will continue to be sought following Sunday’s race.

A brace of drivers and teams have been highly critical of the seeding system which sees teams compelled to run at least one unseeded driver.

Event director James O’Brien said there was no hard and fast solution to the seeding rules.

Under the current rules the highly experienced Brit Ben Collins is competing for the reigning race champions Maranello Motorsport as an unseeded driver, one of many dubious classifications in the field.

Phoenix Racing’s #15 R8 LMS driver Marco Mapelli has been classed as an unseeded driver despite being a two-time Italian GT champion.

Under the FIA rules both Collins and Mapelli are classed as Silver drivers however Bathurst operates under different guidelines.

O’Brien has defended the seeding stipulations, saying the guidelines are reviewed each year.

“In a perfect world we would just use the FIA driver classification system but we can’t,” O’Brien told Speedcafe.com

“We have a hybrid system at the moment and again we will review it after this year and tighten it up as best we can.”

American sportscar ace Patrick Long, who is driving with Chris Pither and David Calvert-Jones in the Competition Motorsports Porsche, said the issue was complex.

“There are a couple of pros that have slipped through the cracks but that is nothing new; it happens,” Long told this website.

“ I think there is a self policing element for the situation.

“If on your own website, you call yourself a professional driver, then you are talking yourself out of being an unseeded driver. Its a debate.

“I think having three drivers with one unseeded is a good move and a good progression and I think the organisers have done a good job there.”

O’Brien agreed the seeding dilemma presents problems however he vowed the aim was to remain objective.

“We want to be as objective as possible,” O’Brien said.

“It is a difficult thing to get right and as you know the teams will always find a crack in the rules to their advantage.

“There’s certainly no favouritism applied to any brand, team car whatsoever. That would just ruin the credibility of the event so we try and err on the side of conservatism.”

US-based Kiwi Matt Halliday, sharing an Audi R8 LMS with team owner Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Almond, says an unseeded driver, in its essence, is meant to be an amateur driver.

“By the rulebook we have got quite a strong unseeded driver but there are other guys that have exploited the rules and its not quite right,” Halliday told Speedcafe.com

“There are a couple of blatant ones which I don’t know how they have got through and slipped through the cracks.

“There are at least three or four unseeded drivers in this race who are currently seeded in my eyes.

“As this race grows it needs to be a bit more like Spa 24 Hour where you can have three pros in a car in a pro class, a pro-am class and an amateur class.

“Even just Pro and Pro-am classes would work.

“They (organisers) have got to keep working at to get it right.”

*Speedcafe.com’s Bathurst 12 Hour news powered by Nissan.

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