Ryan reprimanded for pit confrontation

Erebus Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan has received a reprimand for physical contact with Mark Winterbottom during the recent Auckland SuperSprint.

Barry Ryan, Erebus Motorsport

Ryan was involved in a heated exchange between Erebus driver Will Brown and Winterbottom following the second Pukekohe race.

Brown's car had been badly damaged when he hit the wall at pit entry following a clash with Winterbottom on the opening lap.

In pictures shown on live TV, Ryan was twice seen making gentle physical contact with Winterbottom as he urged him to leave the Erebus garage.

Motorsport Australia stewards announced several days later that they would investigate the matter and determine if it required punishment.

They have since settled on a reprimand for Ryan based on Rule B6.5.1, which reads, "a person must not intentionally make physical contact, which includes any type of assault with another person, except in self-defence".

"The driver of car 18 acknowledged that he did not feel threatened or intimidated during the incident," read the stewards report.

"Notwithstanding, the stewards are satisfied that a breach of Rule B6.5.1 was occasioned by the second push and the authorised representative (Ryan) acknowledged that he made an error of judgment and that physical contact with the driver was unnecessary.

"The Stewards find the breach established and impose a reprimand on the authorised representative of Erebus."

Full stewards findings

"On the first lap of Race 28 an incident occurred between cars 18 and 9 at Turn 9 as a result of which car 9 was pushed off track and collided heavily with a tyre barrier on the exit of Turn 9 causing significant damage to car 9.

"The force of the impact of car 9 with the tyre barrier was reported to have been 56G.

"The Driver of Car 9 was uninjured. During the race the stewards imposed a PLP on the driver of car 18 for a reckless driving infringement in relation to that incident.

"Media had interviewed the driver of car 9 who suggested that the driver of car 18 ought to visit him after the race to discuss the incident. The driver of car 18 attended the Erebus garage shortly after the race to enquire of the driver of car 9 as to his welfare.

"He was not intending to speak with the authorised representative of Erebus who was in discussions with the driver of car 9 when the driver of car 18 arrived. The driver of car 18 was unaware that the authorised representative of Erebus had sent a message to his counterpart at Team 18 requesting that the driver of car 18 not attend the Erebus garage because emotions within the Erebus team were high and the team needed time to focus on assessing whether the car was repairable.

"A verbal altercation occurred within the Erebus garage between the drivers of cars 18 and 9 and the authorised representative of Erebus regarding the first lap incident and its consequences. A media camera operator was in attendance in the garage at the time and filmed the altercation. The footage depicts physical contact between the authorised representative of Erebus and the driver of car 18.

"The first contact involved the authorised representative using the back of his hand to touch the driver’s left arm to direct the driver towards the door of the garage at the same time as asking the driver to leave the garage.

"There was no force behind the push.

"The second contact occurred a short time later and involved the authorised representative pushing the driver’s upper arm using the open face of his hand, again at the same time as asking the driver to leave, the driver having not left after the first contact.

"The second contact was evidently more forceful that the first because it pushed the driver of car 18 off balance, albeit slightly.

"Rule B6.5.1 provides that "a person must not intentionally make physical contact, which includes any type of assault with another person, except in self-defence." A literal construction of that rule would deem any harmless and not unwanted physical contact a breach.

"In our minds, a breach of the rule cannot be established unless the contact was at the very least unwanted and beyond the bounds of social norms. The first contact was little more than a touch and was merely a non-aggressive means of conveying to the driver of car 18 that he was not wanted in the garage at that time.

"The second contact, however, involving more force, was unwarranted and went beyond the bounds of social norms even though it was not threatening and caused no harm to the driver.

"The stewards recognise that the altercation occurred in an emotionally charged context. The authorised representative of Erebus and the driver of car 9 were upset by what had occurred on track and for which the stewards had imposed a penalty on the driver of car 18.

"Car 9 was unable to compete in Race 29 and it was uncertain then if it could be repaired in time for the next round of the championship, if at all.

"The driver of car 18 acknowledged that had he known of the request that he not attend at the Erebus garage when he did, he would not have done so and would have chosen a later moment to discuss the incident with the driver of Car 9.

"The combination of circumstances were unfortunate and arose out of a misunderstanding by the driver of car 18 that an open invitation had been extended to him to attend at the Erebus garage to discuss the Race 28 incident.

"The driver of car 18 acknowledged that he did not feel threatened or intimidated during the incident. Notwithstanding, the stewards are satisfied that a breach of Rule B6.5.1 was occasioned by the second push and the authorised representative acknowledged that he made an error of judgment and that physical contact with the driver was unnecessary.

"The Stewards find the breach established and impose a reprimand on the authorised representative of Erebus."

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