The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), the country’s governing body, has brought forward its hearing into DJR Team Penske’s alleged team orders breach at the Bathurst 1000 to today.
The original stewards’ summary released on the morning after the race stayed that the charge would be heard prior to track activity at next weekend’s Gold Coast 600.
Having now confirmed the hearing date, CAMS also advised that the outcome and announcement of its decision from the hearing will be made public on Sunday.
“CAMS can today advise the Stewards Hearing involving Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd (DJR Team Penske) regarding the alleged breach of Rule D24.1 at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will now be held on Saturday,” their statement reads.
“The outcome and the publication of the decision will occur on Sunday, 20 October, with the stewards summary to be made available on the CAMS website as soon as it is available.”
The results of the race, won by DJR Team Penske’s defending champion Scott McLaughlin and co-driver Alexandre Prémat, remain provisional until the decision from the hearing is made.
The duo’s sensational win came under official scrutiny following the sister car, driven by Fabian Coulthard (pictured above), slowing significantly at the onset of a Safety Car on Lap 135 which led to an “extraordinary increase” in the gap between Coulthard’s car and that of McLaughlin’s which preceded him on track.
McLaughlin was able to make a pit stop and not lose any positions by virtue of Coulthard holding up the rest of the field. As a result of failing to maintain a five-car-length distance to McLaughlin during the Safety Car period, Coulthard was subsequently handed a drive-through penalty.
Subsequent protests from rival teams and a semi-admission by DJR Team Penske management that is had instructed Coulthard to slow down, stewards became “concerned that the incident may have been the result of [the team] having issued an instruction to [Coulthard] to slow and create an unwarranted large gap [to McLaughlin] for tactical reasons”, the original statement explained.
“Rule D24.1 prohibits Team Orders and provides that an instruction to a Driver or Team member, either verbal or otherwise the effect of which may interfere with a race result is a Team Order,” it further noted.
While the only established breach is that the Safety Car procedures by Coulthard, a guilty ruling for breaching team orders could see DJR Team Penske being excluded from the race, which would hand the race win to Red Bull Holden Racing team’s Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Garth Tander.
The more likely penalty, according to insiders, is a monetary fine or a points penalty – neither would have any meaningful impact to the team and it has been argued by multiple rival drivers and teams that this would be a slap on the wrist.
Should CAMS wish to set a significant precedence and deter this behaviour in the future, an exclusion from the Teams’ Championship is an equally viable penalty. This would see DJR Team Penske allocated the worst pit bay position for the 2020 season at pit entry, which would give it a lasting tactical disadvantage in qualifying and race sessions.
Image via DJR Team Penske
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