Garry Rogers Motorsport’s naming rights sponsor Boost Mobile has moved to pay Richie Stanaway’s fine after it deemed the sanction to be unfair on the driver.
Stewards issued Stanaway $10,000 fine and a disqualification from Race 5 for a Dangerous Driving offence that saw him make contact with Tickford Racing’s Lee Holdsworth.
Video footage shows Stanaway hitting the rear of Holdsworth’s car at Turn 4 with the Kiwi appearing to stay in the throttle as he escorts his rival to the edge of the race track at Turn 5.
The incident followed contact between the pair on the opening lap which Stanaway claimed damaged his steering.
Reflecting on the incident, Stanway has labelled the penalty ‘pretty harsh’ while his team owner Garry Rogers has defended his actions.
Boost Mobile founder Peter Adderton has gone a step further by paying the fine, of which $5,000 is suspended until the end of the year.
Although the telco boss, who paid a fine Tickford Racing driver James Moffat copped last year, has confirmed that his driver will be expected to stump up the cash for any further sanctions.
“I said to Richie, when I saw the incident and I saw that this was obviously, clearly, somebody inside of the stewards office has an issue beyond just the incident,” Adderton told Speedafe.com.
“I said this is on us, ‘the next one will be on you but this one’s on us’ because I truly did not believe that the penalty warranted that fine.
“Now if he does something that warrants a harsh penalty, we will, absolutely, be all over that.
“But that didn’t warrant what he got and that made me question why would I, as a sponsor, at the Melbourne Grand Prix, be there when we’re starting at the back in the pit lane.
“I mean after getting a $10,000 fine and then they can’t even explain that and then when people see the video footage they’re like, ‘really?’ And that’s the frustrating thing.
“You would’ve thought the way that the commentators and the way that the penalty came down that Richie had done something five times worse other than what Garth had done to Fabian (Gold Coast, 2016). And when I saw the video footage, I couldn’t believe it.”
Speedcafe.com sought comment from the stewards but has not been given permission to speak to members of the judicial team about the decision by Supercars.
It is believed that prior offences and attitude towards them from the driver were taken into account when determining the penalty issued.
A summary has been issued by the stewards which reveals details of the hearing and how the verdict was reached.
It claims the driver ‘engaged in intentional and improper action which created serious risk to others, not just the Driver of Car #5 but potentially other Cars in the Race had Car #5 been spun as a result of the contact.’
At 0900hours on 17 March 2019 the appointed Stewards, having summonsed the Authorised Representatives and Drivers of Car #33, Richie Stanaway, and Car #5, Lee Holdsworth, conducted a Hearing to consider a Charge of a breach of Article 2.1.3 of Schedule B2 Code of Driving Conduct (Dangerous Driving) by the Driver of Car #33 in Race 5 involving contact with Car #5 at Turns 4 and 5 on Lap 3.
In attendance were the DRD, David Stuart, the Authorised Representative of Garry Rogers Motorsport, Stefan Millard, the Driver of Car #33, the Authorised Representative of Tickford Racing Pty Ltd, Matthew Roberts, and the Driver of Car #5.
The alleged breach was denied by the Driver of Car #33 insofar as it alleged an intention to create serious risk to others but the Driver of Car #33 admitted that the Incident reflected a departure by the Driver of Car #33 from the Standard of a competent Driver (ie. the Driver of Car #33 admitted to a breach of Article 2.1.1 of Schedule B2 (Careless Driving) but denied that he was guilty of Reckless or Dangerous Driving.
The DRD presented Judicial Camera footage from Car #33 which showed contact with the rear of Car #5 at the apex of Turn 4 continuing to the exit of Turn 4 where both Cars were on the outside of the exit kerb beyond track limits and further contact with the rear of Car #5 on the entry to and through Turn 5 as a result of which Car #5 was pushed wide off the Race Track and Car #33 then passed Car #5 gaining a position.
The DRD called the DSA, Craig Baird, who spoke to the Judicial Camera footage and emphasised that the throttle indicator on Car #33 demonstrated that the Driver of Car #33 continued to have significant throttle applied after initial contact with Car #5 at Turn 4 and continuing through to the exit of Turn 4 and, again, after the initial contact with Car #5 at the entry of Turn 5 until Car #5 was pushed outside track limits.
The DSA explained that the degree of continued significant throttle application by the Driver of Car #33 after each contact with the rear of Car #5 was not consistent with what might be expected of a Driver in the circumstances and that he would have expected the Driver of Car #33 to have lifted to avoid creating risk to the Driver of Car #5.
The DSA pointed to the attitude of the rear of Car #5 throughout each contact, with the rear of Car #5 lifted by continuing force from the front of Car #33 as a result of which the Driver of Car #5 did not have full control of his Car.
The DRD tendered a Supercars Media article published on the evening of 16 March 2019 following Race 5 in which the Driver of Car #33 was quoted as having said, following a post-Race altercation with the Driver of Car #5:
“He [the Driver of Car #5] dive-bombed me from about three of four car-lengths back on the first lap and ran me off the track at Turn 13 and bent my steering…
“Then when I got near him later on in the race, obviously wasn’t too kind to him, but if he wants to race clean then that stuff won’t happen.”
The Driver of Car #33 explained that he never intended to create any risk to the Driver of Car #5 and that his intention was only to regain the place that he had lost on Lap 1 when Car #5 had overtaken him at Turn 13 with minor contact which was subsequently investigated by the DRD who determined that Car #5 had not committed any breach of the Rules.
The Driver of Car #5 agreed with the DSA’s observations summarised above. The Driver of Car #5 told the Stewards that he apprehended at the time of the Incident that he was being put at serious risk.
The Driver of Car #33 admitted that he had made the statements quoted in the Supercars Media article tendered by the DRD. He admitted that his subsequent contact with Car #5 on Lap 3 at Turns 4 and 5 was intentional in that he intended to regain the position he had lost on Lap 1 but denied that he intended to “turn Car #5 around”.
The Hearing was adjourned at 0940hrs for the Stewards to deliberate.
We find the charge has been proved.
We find that the Driver of Car #33 did engage in intentional and improper action which created serious risk to others, not just the Driver of Car #5 but potentially other Cars in the Race had Car #5 been spun as a result of the contact.
We find that, even if the initial contact with the rear of Car #5 at the entry to Turn 4 was not intentional, the continued push of Car #5 wide through the exit of Turn 4 and the subsequent contact at and through Turn 5 was intentional in that it was deliberate with indifference to the consequences for Car #5.
We accept that the Driver of Car #33 did not at any time intend to cause harm to the Driver of Car #5 but that was not alleged – the allegation was that the Driver of Car #33 engaged in intentional conduct (the continued contact with Car #5 with continuing significant throttle application knowing that to have done so was wrong) which created a serious risk to the Driver of Car #5.
The DRD submitted that the appropriate Penalty for this offence is disqualification of Car #33 from Race 5, relegation of Car #33 to start Race 6 from the Pit Lane and a Fine of $10,000.
We note that a Penalty in those terms was imposed for the last breach of Article 2.1.3 of Schedule B2.
The Authorised Representative and Driver of Car #33 chose not to make any submissions on Penalty but repeated that the Driver of Car #33 did not intend to cause any harm to the Driver of Car #5 (which we accept).