Triple Eight denies ‘heavy accusation’ of Feeney Safety Car slowdown
Saturday 1st April, 2023 - 11:25am
Red Bull Ampol Racing Team Manager Mark Dutton has denied that Broc Feeney slowed down to help Shane van Gisbergen during a Race 4 Safety Car period.
Walkinshaw Andretti United co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw levelled the accusation at Triple Eight Race Engineering, claiming that his driver Chaz Mostert was unfairly held up in a decisive period of the second race of the Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint.
Walkinshaw’s contention is that Car #88 was slowed in a bid to protect van Gisbergen’s track position during the full-circuit yellow flag period which coincided with a time-certain finish to the contest at Albert Park.
Dutton refuted the claim, arguing that the vision which was shown on television was misleading because Feeney had slowed while passing the stricken Truck Assist Camaro of Jack Le Brocq which caused the Safety Car.
“That’s pretty heavy accusations, what he’s saying there,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“That’s throwing out some pretty harsh words.
“No, we’re running Broc’s race. The area they showed on TV, if I’m not mistaken, was actually around the incident, where the car was into the wall.
“So, we slowed down where there was a crashed car so, clearly, we’ve done nothing wrong.
“[If he was] Actually not slowing down, he’s doing something wrong in that instance.”
Dutton went on to note that van Gisbergen already had track position on Feeney before the pit stop cycle started.
The latter stopped on Lap 6 and the former on Lap 7, consistent with the fact that the lead car in a team would ordinarily get pit priority and that the optimal race and event strategy was to pit as late as possible.
Time-certainty was looming by then and the earlier wet track declaration meant drivers who started on super softs, such as the two Triple Eight entries, were able to change rears only.
The Safety Car was called on Lap 7, prompting Triple Eight to call Car #97 into the pits, and the chequered flag flew at the end of Lap 8.
“Broc’s job is to get to the Safety Car line as fast as he can,” added Dutton.
“He’s racing Shane at that time, and everyone else in pit lane.
“Also, just because the Safety Car comes out… Shane and Brodie [Kostecki, the eventual race winner] were in front to begin with.
“So, funnily enough, if they’re not slowed down under Safety Car, you don’t magically lose those that track position.
“So, Broc was going around as fast as safe to do because if there were any incidents with a slow pit stop, he might have leapfrogged some people, but there had to be slow pit stops for that to happen, because everyone should have slowed a similar amount around the crash.
“Then if you’re pitting, you come into pit lane as fast as you can – whether you should do that or not, that’s above my paygrade; I wish there was a rule to stop us doing that, but there’s not – and then so Shane’s coming around as fast as safe to get in and Broc’s coming around as fast as safe to hope that he’s [van Gisbergen] lost more time and overtake his team-mate and Brodie.
“So, the fact that you’re saying that is just wrong and preposterous.”
Dutton also pointed out that van Gisbergen was unlikely to win anyway, considering Kostecki (and James Courtney) were ahead of the #97 Camaro, and reiterated that, even if he was, the risk of a drama in the pits arguably made slowing Feeney a suboptimal call anyway.
The Triple Eight entries took the chequered flag third and fourth on the road, but were elevated to second and third once Courtney was pinged to the tune of 30 seconds for causing an incident at the first corner of the race.
This morning, Feeney claimed a maiden Supercars Championship pole position for Race 6, which will be held tomorrow.
He will start Race 5 from 21st after being caught out by a late red flag in the corresponding qualifying session, while van Gisbergen is set to get away from Row 6 in both encounters.
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