Motorsport Australia defends itself over Super2 fire response

Jack Perkins’ car on fire. Picture: Fox Sports

Motorsport Australia has defended how its officials responded to the fire which took hold in Jack Perkins’ car during a Dunlop Super2 Series race in Townsville.

The Eggleston Motorsport driver was one of several caught up in the pile-up which brought a premature end to Race 1 of Round 3 at the Reid Park Street Circuit, after Tyler Everingham turned Zak best sideways at Turn 3.

Perkins’ #88 VF Commodore sustained heavy front end damage before a fire developed around the engine bay area as the car sat on the side of the race track at the crash site.

He was seen gesticulating with the apparent intent of attracting the attention of a marshal and fire extinguisher, although it was a considerable period of time before a response arrived.

In a statement advising that it has reviewed the response, Motorsport Australia says that the gate at which Perkins stopped was not a marked marshal’s post and hence there was not an extinguisher at that point.

It also pointed to the fact that the fire extinguisher which is required to be in the race car’s engine bay was not activated by Perkins.

“Motorsport Australia has reviewed the circumstances of the car fire and the fire response involving Jack Perkins’ Commodore, Car 88, in the Dunlop Series (Super2/Super3) race on Saturday,” read the statement.

“Car 88 stopped at an infield access gate not used or manned during competition and it is not a marshal’s post. As such, there were no fire extinguishers available at this point.

“There was a marshal post approximately 60m from this incident on the opposite side of the circuit. It is a well-established protocol that our officials cannot cross a ‘hot track’ until given approval from Race Control once it is safe to do so. In this case, the barrier was on the track edge making access potentially dangerous at that time.

“A fire response vehicle was also located 800m from the incident at Turn 2 and reached car 88 within 41 seconds of being scrambled by Race Control.

“For context, there were 19 signed marshal posts across the Reid Park Circuit, all of which have three fire extinguishers available at each. Given the length of the track, this averages out to a marshal post with extinguishers approximately every 150m. There were also several fire response vehicles located around the circuit.

“As with all cars competing in the Dunlop Series, Car 88 was also fitted with a fire extinguisher in the engine bay for use on fires such as this. In this instance, it was not activated by the driver. We will make sure all competitors are reminded about the various fire safety procedures for future events, including the lifting of bonnets which can increase the fire risk.

“Circuit safety is our paramount responsibility, and while no one likes to see a car on fire we need to ensure our competitors and responding volunteer marshals’ safety is our number one priority.”

Eggleston Motorsport was able to turn around both McLean’s Car #54 and Perkins’ Car #88 for Qualifying for Race 2 on the following morning, with the former going on to preserve his unbeaten record in 2021 of round honours among the rookies in the Super2 field.

Everingham was ultimately not punished for the clash which set off the drama after stewards found no driver wholly or predominantly to blame.

The fire controversy is not the only one which Motorsport Australia has addressed, with the governing body promising to work with Supercars over an apparent procedural shortcoming which saw Shane van Gisbergen’s Top 10 Shootout lap on that same day compromised.

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