Supercars officials defend Safety Car stance

CAMS race control has defended its deployment of the Safety Car during today's chaotic Supercars race at Pukekohe.

Supercars officials defend Safety Car stance

Race director Tim Schenken and deputy race director David Stuart came under fire after the deployment of the Safety Car started a chain of events that plunged today's race into chaos.

Having picked up effective leader Jamie Whincup, rather than actual leader Scott McLaughlin, the Red Bull Holden purposely defied Supercars regulations by overtaking the Safety Car.

The debacle ended in the likes of Lee Holdsworth, Fabian Coulthard and Cam Waters being dumped into the midfield, while Whincup was slapped with a drive-through for his actions.

While those affected were quick to blame Schenken and Stuart, Whincup particularly scathing in his post-race comments, the officials are bullish about the procedure that was followed.

According to race control the plan was to use the initial Safety Car position to neutralise the race, before repositioning cars where required to find the proper leader – which would have been Whincup once all the stops played out.

However Schenken and Stuart say Whincup's decision to take the law into his own hands made it impossible to reshuffle the field.

"In a situation like this at a circuit like this we've got a short lap and a long pitlane,” Stuart told Fox Sports after the race. 

"We had a car stopped on track, on the racing line on the entry to Turn 8, so the Safety Car was deployed. And at that time, because of the long pit lane, short lap, we need to be able to understand who is the leader of the race and get the right person. 

"So that's why the orange lights were on the Safety Car, to give us an opportunity to sort out where the leader was positioned at the time.

"We will always try and pick up the leader; if it's a longer circuit with a normal pitlane it gives us the opportunity to find the leader and pick the leader up, but at the same time you've got a recovery on track. 

"The rules are clear under Safety Car deployment, if the orange lights are on you stay behind the Safety Car."

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When asked if Whincup holding station would have simplified the situation, Stuart said: "Well, we would have been able to identify the leader and we would have been able to wave cars through and have the leader at the time."

Schenken added that the SC2 line, located after the pitlane blend line on the run to the first turn, is what's used by officials to determine the true leader of the race during a caution.

"That will determine and confirm to us who the actual leader is," he said. 

"Anything could happen in the meantime. Who people think the leader is could stall in pitlane, have some issues. 

"So we have to be confident that when we are identifying the leader, that we then pick up the right car. 

"So that was the situation here. Hold the field, identify the leader and wave any cars between the car behind the Safety Car and the leader through."

Schenken also firmly denied Whincup's comments about race control "not operating at the same level as the teams are operating at".

"We are committed and I think everybody knows that," said Schenken. 

"I haven't heard what he said but I think most people know we are absolutely committed."

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Series Supercars
Event Auckland
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
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