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GRM legal action against Motorsport Australia ‘in motion’

Mat Coch Simon Chapman

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Sunday 27th September, 2020 - 6:00am

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Barry Rogers pic: Garry Rogers Motorsport Facebook

Garry Rogers Motorsport has set “in motion” legal action against Motorsport Australia after an unsuccessful bid to obtain a Superlicence exemption for Nathan Herne.

The development comes after a failed attempt on Friday to reach a compromise with the governing body that would see Herne partake in practice for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

That proposal would have seen the 18-year-old’s driving reviewed after cutting laps at Mount Panorama in a Supercar for the first time.

It would appear that the fate of the GRM wildcard entry rests on establishing Herne’s eligibility to race or installing a replacement to partner Tyler Everingham in the squad’s ZB Commodore.

However, Team Director Barry Rogers remains adamant that the programme will only proceed if Herne is one of the drivers.

Without a Superlicence, and with no avenue for appeal within Motorsport Australia’s framework, legal action appears to offer GRM its last opportunity to make the grid.

“We requested maybe that Motorsport Australia consider issuing a provisional licence based on the fact there’s eight hours of practice and qualifying prior to the 1000 (race) and that they would assess Nathan during that period,” Rogers told Speedcafe.com.

“If he wasn’t up to the required speed and if his driving (didn’t meet) the requirements with regards to any safety concerns or the way he went about it, we’d happily put the car in the truck and head back to Melbourne.

“There’s no acceptance of even that as an option,” he added.

“That’s disappointing because the race is six hours, there’s eight hours of lead-up time, there’s plenty of time there to assess his abilities.

“So we just keep pressing on.”

Rogers confirmed that ‘pressing on’ referred to pursuing the matter through legal avenues.

“It’s in motion now. It’s going to happen, for sure. 100 percent,” he confirmed.

“When that happens, we’ll see how that all unfolds.

“It’s just a shame that everybody can’t sit down and say, ‘hey, listen, that’s a reasonable outcome. Let’s go up there, let’s give him the track time.’

“If he’s not up to it, that’s fine, away we go, we’re out of there.

“It will move pretty quickly and in these instances, when there’s urgency with dates and things there, there’s a process to go through and we’ve begun that process, and as I say, that’ll move very fast,” he added.

“Bathurst is the 15th of October – well, that’s a Thursday – so it’s going to move fairly fast between now and then. That will happen.”

He argues that Herne has been discriminated against because he has competed outside of Motorsport Australia’s structure, and doesn’t fit the accepted mould for a Supercars driver.

“The fact is they made a decision long ago that this wasn’t going to happen,” asserted Rogers.

“Nathan Herne doesn’t fit the mould that Supercars wants racing at the Bathurst 1000.

“The fact is, Nathan Herne far exceeds any submission ever given for a licence dispensation. There has never been an intention to approve of it.

“The decision has been a predetermined decision, regardless of what is being given to them,” he continued.

“That’s the disappointing part, hence why we’re pushing this way.

“People say, ‘Why are you doing it?’ Because it is wrong, what they’ve done.

“He is being discriminated against because he hasn’t come through their pathway.

“We understand the pathway, and the pathway is a good pathway, Super3 and Super2, but not everyone can afford that.

“He’s a young man that can’t afford it but certainly can drive.

“Every aspiring, young racing driver should be able to drive at Bathurst without their parents selling their house.

“This is why we’ve dug our heels in. We want to make a change here so other people can dream of getting to Bathurst.”

In response to Rogers’ comments, Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca said the governing body would hold its ground.

“We stand by our decision to not issue a dispensation in this instance,” Arocca said in a statement issued to Speedcafe.com when approached for comment on the prospect of a legal challenge from GRM.

Typically, it would be expected that legal action would begin with the issuing of a writ from the aggrieved party.

Should that not obtain the desired outcome, it would progress to an injunction.

It could take seven days for the hearing to be held, and potentially another day before a judgement is made.

Issuing a summons to Motorsport Australia once business opens tomorrow would potentially push the hearing as far back as October 5, just over a week out from the event start.

The Victorian-based team is due to commence quarantine tomorrow, with personnel split across Darwin and Sydney, before reconvening in Bathurst ahead of the race.

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