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Larkham presents radical V8 penalty scheme

Tom Howard

Friday 4th December, 2015 - 4:00am

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Mark Larkham

Mark Larkham

Mark Larkham has presented a radical initiative to V8 Supercars aimed at improving the current in-race penalty system.

A former V8 Supercars driver, team owner and board member, the now media pundit has developed a new concept following frustration with the severity of the current drive-through penalties.

It directly follows a drive-through for Michael Caruso in the Sunday race at Phillip Island which saw the Nissan driver demoted from fourth to the back of the field.

The penalty had been issued due to the Altima’s rear wheels momentarily rotating in its second pitstop due to a clutch issue.

The new scheme proposes that drivers who commit an indiscretion worthy of a minor penalty receive a reduction in power for a pre-determined amount of time.

The power penalty would be triggered by a slight decrease in maximum available throttle, controlled through the car’s ECU.

Stewards would mete out the penalty to an offender which would then be signalled to fellow drivers and spectators via a warning light placed on the infringing car.

The light would flash for a lap before the reduction of power is administered by the driver the following lap.

If a driver failed to accept the penalty the matter would be taken up by stewards after the race.

Larkham’s self labelled IVaN (I’m Vulnerable Next lap) system would see the use of drive-through penalties reserved for much more serious offences.

The Network Ten V8 Supercars commentator says his idea will not only address indiscretions correctly but add to the spectacle for fans and television audiences.

He compares the use of this system as like a ‘free kick’ rule used in ball sports such as the AFL.

“It started with the abuse of track limits followed by the ongoing issue of making sure the penalty fits the crime for indiscretions,” Larkham told Speedcafe.com, having written about the system in the latest issue of V8X Supercar Magazine.

“Throwing an umbrella over all of that is addressing it while adding to the entertainment spectacle.

“It has really bugged me seeing players being pulled out of the game (with a drive-through penalty) for no real valid reason.

“Since I have been working in the motorsport television industry it becomes quite apparent how it can really impact the product.

“I think for example if there is an unfair performance gain had by shortcutting a piece of the circuit anywhere then there needs to be an equivalent or a little bit harsher correction.

“What I am trying to do here is grab what is a negative in our sport but turn into a positive.

“If someone is coming under threat by three or four cars because his throttle position has been reduced for five or seven seconds (by a penalty) in television world we would be all over it as a spectacle.

“I see no reason why this concept couldn’t be applied to categories all over the world to bring us into line with modern professional sport.

“I’ve articulated the concept with V8 Supercars and I’m going to get together with Steve Horne (chairman of the V8 Supercars Commission) to discuss it further because this is something that would need to go before the Commission.

“It is then up to the category to take it up further but there has been a lot of positive interest in it.”

Larkham has investigated the technology required for such a system to be implemented following a meeting with V8 Supercars engine expert Craig Hasted.

“One of the first ports of call was Craig (Hasted) to get his thoughts on the capability of this concept and I haven’t come up against any resistance yet,” he said.

“He thought a change in the throttle position would be the best way to do it.”

While awaiting feedback from V8 Supercars, he hopes to be in a position to trial the system next year.

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