New rule to address Supercars’ Bathurst dirt controversy

Cameron Waters

Supercars has tightened its rulebook to address situations similar to the controversial dirt incident which Cameron Waters was at the centre of at the Repco Mount Panorama 500.

Waters attracted the ire of at least Triple Eight Race Engineering when it was found that he dragged dirt onto the race track during his cool down lap in the Top 10 Shootout which finalised the starting grid for Race 2 of the season.

Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton asserted that the action was intentional and suggested that the Tickford Racing driver’s behaviour constituted “dangerous driving”.

One of Dutton’s steerers, Shane van Gisbergen, managed to qualify on pole when he went out two cars after Waters, although he had noted the presence of the dirt.

Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert, however, had the burden of going immediately after the #6 Tickford entry had ventured off-track at The Esses, and experienced a huge moment there and through The Dipper which follows.

Supercars has now made a modification to Schedule B2 of its Operations Manual, the section entitled ‘Code of Driving Conduct’, to create a rule which covers such an incident.

The relevant passage, including mark-up as published in material provided to Speedcafe.com, now reads as follows:

“3.12 During any race Session, Aa Driver must not consistently:

3.12.1 Cut corners by driving over the inside of kerbs or off the Race Track surface; or

3.12.2 Cut any corner which results in material or debris being brought onto the Race Track; or

3.12.3 Perform any act which results in material or debris being brought onto the Race Track.

3.13 During any non-race Session (including, without limitation, any practice or qualifying Session (including any cool down laps during such Sessions)), a Driver must take care not to:

3.13.1 Cut corners by driving over the inside of kerbs or off the Race Track surface; or

3.13.2 Cut any corner which results in material or debris being brought onto the Race Track; or

3.13.3 Perform any act which results in material or debris being brought onto the Race Track.”

Schedule B2 3.12 as modified

Schedule B2 3.13 as added to the Operations Manual

The manner in which Schedule B2 has been amended goes a long way to shedding light on exactly why Waters was not punished for the incident.

He had claimed in the press conference after Race 2 that he did not incur a penalty because there was no actual breach of regulations, and further stated that his actions were down to a moment of carelessness rather than malintent.

The underlined sections in the excerpt above, which denote changes relative to the original version of the Operations Manual, reflect the fact that a rule did exist to cover drivers going off-track and bringing foreign material back onto the race track.

The key word, however, is ‘consistently’.

There was no demarcation between a race and a non-race session and, by the very nature of a Top 10 Shootout, there is little to no scope for bringing dirt/debris onto the circuit consistently given each driver only has an out lap, timed lap, and in lap.

Furthermore, it stands to reason that any deliberate action would only be committed on the in lap, given doing so any earlier would also create a disadvantage for the driver who transgresses.

3.12 has now been modified such that it specifically refers to race sessions, where there is a genuine opportunity for consistent cutting of corners and the like, while 3.13 is an entirely new addition to the Operations Manual.

Notably, said addition does not require ‘consistency’ of action to constitute a breach, and specifically refers to cool down laps.

Had it existed at the time, Waters could conceivably have been punished for his mishap at Mount Panorama last month.

It should be noted that the 26-year-old refuted suggestions, such as that from Dutton, that he was unsporting in his actions on the cool down lap, but was contrite about the hazard which he caused for Mostert and van Gisbergen.

He also expressed support for a rule change like that which has indeed come to pass, and said that he even recommended the idea to Driving Standards Advisor Craig Baird himself.

“I actually said to Bairdo that there should be a rule in there because obviously what happened to me and the other boys, it’s a disadvantage for those guys,” recounted Waters during the post-Race 2 press conference.

The 2020 Supercars Championship runner-up sits sixth in the drivers’ standings after the first two races of the 2021 season, at Mount Panorama.

Waters qualified on pole for the former of those but went on to be last classified finisher, in 20th position, after what was a brand-new power steering pump in a new Mustang failed.

He converted a front row start into the early lead in Race 2 but fell behind eventual winner van Gisbergen as he exited the pits after his first stop, and remained an effective second for the rest of the journey.

The Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint takes place this weekend, with all practice, plus Qualifying for and Race 3 of the season itself, on Saturday.

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