Calls for rewrite of Winton rejoin rule

Scott McLaughlin runs off the road at Turn 5 in Race 13

Calls for an amendment to the rule that allowed drivers to shortcut the Winton circuit between Turn 5 and Turn 9 have emerged.

Support for a rewrite has been triggered after Scott McLaughlin took advantage of the ruling in Race 13 when he was forced wide at Turn 5 after a touch from Shell V-Power Racing team-mate Fabian Coulthard on the opening lap.

Aware of the track limits rule that states; “cars running off at Turn 5 must rejoin prior to the T9 flag point,” McLaughlin made split second call, within the rules, to drive across the infield and rejoin the circuit at Turn 8.

In doing so, the championship leader redressed to the position he held before leaving the track and subsequently went on to win the race.

The legal move sparked controversy in the paddock with Tickford Racing perplexed that the driver didn’t receive a penalty. 

The rule is expected to be investigated with many in the paddock keen for a rewrite.     

“What Scotty did was within the rules, so no issue there,” Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton told Speedcafe.com.

“As for the rule, it is wrong, it has been wrong for a long time; it’s not just specific to here. 

“If you go off the track, the rule is you’re not meant to make a gain, so that’s why the drivers think, and they’ve been allowed to think, ‘If I fall off in P3, then I can get back on in P3, (because) I haven’t made a gain.’

“In fact, if you fall of in P3 and you get back in P3, that’s a massive gain because you’ve gone off the track, so you should be back however many spots.

“The fact that you break even is a massive gain. 

“But that’s how the rule is, so I don’t think McLaughlin’s done anything wrong, but something should be done against the rule.”

Penrite Racing CEO Barry Ryan believes a simple tweak of the rule to ensure drivers rejoin at Turn 7 would suffice.

Ryan also suggested that the use of MotoGP-style long lap penalty piece of road could be introduced to make it clear where drivers have to rejoin the circuit should they run off the road.

“I think (it should be rewritten) because it used to be you had to rejoin at Turn 7, and there’s no way you could get back on before T7 and get an advantage,” Ryan told Speedcafe.com.

“I think it just needs to get back to that or we’ve got to put some lines on the track or something when you go off that you have to follow them and that’s where you have to go to get back on the track. 

“It could be something really basic but almost like a penalty loop you have to go through.”

Tickford boss Tim Edwards says he expects the rule to be reviewed by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport.

“They (CAMS) always review what happens,” said Edwards.

“There’s a lot of debriefing that happens after a weekend that teams don’t realise goes on, between the stewards and the Supercars officials.

“They always review the week post-event. Whether there’s enough toilets here, was it good enough getting out of the venue… everything gets reviewed after the weekend, both on and off the track.

“It does seem a little bit bizarre that we could all drive off (at Turn 5) and just cut across that every single lap of the race and not get into trouble. You can have 24-car train doing that.

“Unfortunately, it was a bit of a bizarre way (McLaughlin) went off. 

“Generally, when you go off at that corner, you career through the culvert, you bounce out the other side with your splitter is hanging off. You can’t turn around and drive back through that anyway.

“It was just a little unusual, and McLaughlin was still running parallel with the track and didn’t actually go off that way, which made it seem quite bizarre.

“That’s not the typical way people go off there.” 

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