DSA Baird explains Coulthard, Whincup non-penalty decision

Fabian Coulthard

Supercars Driving Standards Advisor Craig Baird has explained why Jamie Whincup avoided a penalty for an alleged unsafe pit lane release into Fabian Coulthard at Hidden Valley Raceway.

Coulthard questioned the safety of Whincup’s release from his pit box, which forced the Shell V-Power Racing Team driver to slow as he approached his pit.

Coulthard alleged after the pair had made contact, posting a photo of a witness mark on the right front corner of his #12 Ford Mustang to social media.

A post-race investigation confirmed that suggestion; however, the incident didn’t warrant a penalty for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team pilot according to Baird.

Under the Supercars Operations manual for Pit Release, it reads:

7.1. The Car Controller is responsible for the safe release of the Car.
7.2. A Car being released from its Pit Bay must give way to a Car already wholly in the fast lane.
7.3. Any Car that travels down the working lane more than the length of two (2) Pit Bays from its
own Pit Bay, or at the discretion of the DSA and the Stewards, without merging or entering
wholly into the fast lane may receive a Penalty.
7.4. Any contact between Cars in Pit Lane may be reviewed by the Stewards and a Penalty may
be applied

Baird explained that given Coulthard was not entirely in the fast lane, there is a duty of care for that car to be prepared to slow down or avoid crew members.

“There’s a difference between a car travelling down the fast lane and a car coming into its pit box,” Baird told the official Supercars website.

“If you read the rule, the paragraph in there about an unsafe release relates to a car being wholly in the fast lane.

“We had to make a decision with the available footage and reports from pitlane that we had, and we felt like there wasn’t major contact.

“Without doubt, after looking at the onboard, there would have been (more contact) had Fabian not yielded, but there’s also a clause in the rulebook that everyone has a duty of care.

“When you’re not in the fast lane you must be prepared to slow, you must be prepared to miss pit equipment, sometimes you’ve got to wait for your teammate.

“You gain a little bit one time, you lose a bit another, with the jostling of getting in and out of the boxes.

“It’s very different to the Whincup penalty (on Saturday) where he was released into the path of a car solely in the fast lane.

“DJR Team Penske had a right to protest the decision, but ultimately everyone in our pitlane has to be flexible at some point.

“At the end of the day Fabian came in right behind (Chaz) Mostert, he went out behind Mostert, and it wasn’t a position change for Whincup.

“People will always have their opinions on it. If I give the penalty out they’ll say it was harsh, because there was give and take, and if I don’t, that’s not good enough either.

“Sometimes I’ve got to sit there and go ‘what do I do, what is fair for the sport?’.”

The decision ultimately meant Whincup won the Darwin Triple Crown trophy.

After Whincup and Coulthard finished equal first on points for the round, Whincup was awarded the round win on countback for wins, of which he had one with the Race 15 victory.

Coulthard currently lies ninth in the drivers’ championship on 682 points, 342 behind team-mate Scott McLaughlin.

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