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Why Triple Eight's Newcastle Supercars disqualification was upheld

Motorsport Australia has explained why it upheld Triple Eight's disqualification from the Supercars season-opener at Newcastle.

Broc Feeney, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Photo by: Edge Photographics

Triple Eight duo Shane van Gisbergen and Broc Feeney were stripped of first and second position from the opening leg of Newcastle 500 on 11 March, with Tickford's Cam Waters declared the eventual winner of the race.

The Red Bull Camaros were found to have positioned a dry ice radiator for a helmet fan on the driver's side of the car and not the passenger side, in direct breach of Supercars' technical regulations.

After stewards scrubbed both cars from the race, Triple Eight lodged an appeal against the ruling and a meeting was held at Motorsport Austrai's office in Melbourne on Wednesday.

A three-person panel consisting of Walter Sofronoff KC, Steve Chopping and Ross Jackson upheld the decision, meaning both reigning champion van Gisbergen and Feeney were officially disqualified from the race.

On Friday evening Motorsport Australia released the full findings of its hearing in which it explains the rationale for upholding the disqualification.

As part of its appeal, Triple Eight argued that it had received verbal approval of the positioning of the system by Supercars Head of Motorsport Adrian Burgess. However, in a statement provided to Motorsport Australia, Burgess "emphatically denied" giving T8 permission to deviate from the rules. 

The Motorsport Australia statement said: "The Stewards rejected this submission and found that the HoM had not given permission to the appellant. They found that, while Mr Dutton might have believed that that was so, his belief was mistaken.

"On the evidence before us, including Mr Dutton’s recent statement, we are of the respectful opinion that the Stewards’ finding was correct.

Mark Dutton, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

Mark Dutton, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

Photo by: Dirk Klynsmith / Motorsport Images

"Put at its highest, on Mr Dutton’s evidence Mr Burgess had agreed with Mr Dutton that the use of the system was a good idea; he said nothing about its placement and it is not even clear that he had turned his mind to the content of the rule about placement."

Motorsport Australia also rejected Triple Eight's claim that Burgess has the power to give an informal waiver of the rules, stating that "even if the HoM had 'instructed' [Triple Eight boss Mark] Dutton in the way in which he submits he was instructed, it could make no difference".

Finally, the governing body concluded that Triple Eight had no grounds against its additional appeal that the penalty handed to it was too severe.

It said: "The Stewards omission to follow the procedure required by Rule 7.2.1 [that where the Stewards have found a breach of the Rules, before imposing a penalty they must give the participant an opportunity to make submissions on penalty] did not result in any unfairness in this case and it would be pointless to allow the appeal on what is a technicality because any appeal would result in the imposition of the same penalties."

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