Percat retains Darwin Supercars podium
The Supercars stewards have determined that Nick Percat can keep his podium finish from the first race in Darwin despite technically breaching the tyre rules.
The Brad Jones Racing driver finished yesterday's opener in third place, however found himself subject to a post-race investigation after being pinged with tyre pressures under the minimum 17 psi.
The issue had been triggered by an unusual drop on pressures in two tyres on the grid, the team changing those tyres as a precaution in case there were puncture issues after admitting there was an issue to Supercars Head of Motorsport Adrian Burgess.
The investigation ran late into last night, the stewards ultimately determining that Percat can keep his third place while also stripping BJR of its team points from the race for car #8.
That was based on what was technically a breach of rule D17.1.17 which reads 'the permitted pressure of a control tyre when fitted to a car is 17 psi which must be achieved at any time that the car is on the circuit during any session'.
"Rule D17.1.17 was breached. However, the breach was remedied before the start of Race 12," read the stewards report.
"That only happened because the team had identified the non-compliance and received the approval of the HoM to address it by changing the right wheels and control tyres on car #8 when it was on the grid.
"By so doing the HoM was not absolving BJR from the breach, only giving the team the benefit of doubt in his mind whether the low pressures were attributable to a fault.
"Because it is within Division D of the rules, rule D17.1.17 is a sporting rule unlike the rules in Division C which are technical rules.
"A breach of a Technical Rule must result in the disqualification of the car concerned. That result is not an automatic consequence of a breach of a sporting rule even if the sporting rule has a conformity element to it.
"Rule D17.1.17 serves an important safety and sporting function. The lower the pressures in a control tyre the longer the car can run on those tyres in a race but if the starting pressures are too low it creates a risk that the tyre may dislodge from the rim. The rule was introduced to avoid this risk.
"Historically teams were permitted to adjust the pressures in control tyres while a car is on the grid. However, this was recently prohibited. Consequently teams must now pre-set the pressures in control tyres before the car leaves pit exit to start the observation lap.
"Obviously, in so doing teams attempt to ensure that in the period between leaving pit exit and the start of the formation lap the pressures do not fall below 17 psi but do not greatly exceed that minimum.
"With a 30 minute start procedure which means cars will sit on the grid for some time, predicting pressure loss is not without difficulty.
"The team’s strategy was to attempt to ensure that the pressures of the control tyres on car #8 were as low as possible at the start of Race 12. The communication between the engineer and the driver of car #8 was aimed to achieve that strategy but it was followed by the driver to an extent that the engineer hadn’t anticipated.
"This is an unusual set of circumstances. Because car #8 complied with the rules throughout the race (even though it did not comply before the race started), we are satisfied that a penalty of disqualification would be disproportionate.
"However, a penalty is required. The rule was breached and the breach would have resulted in disqualification had the team not disclosed the non-compliance to the HoM and it was detected during the race or had the HoM refused permission to change the non-complying control tyres.
"The DRD recommended to the stewards a penalty of the loss of all teams championship points for Car #8 in Race 12. The Team were prepared to accept that penalty if the stewards found the rule to have breached (which we have).
"In our view, the DRD’s recommended penalty is appropriate to the circumstances. It will serve as a discouragement to teams against employing strategies to run so close to the edge of the rules in the expectation that they will be immune from consequences if they get it wrong."
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