HOLDEN GTS sedans entered for the seventh round of the Australian GT Performance Championship failed to start today's races at Phillip Island following a controversy over tyre suitability and safety. Race organiser PROCAR Australia had asked the...
HOLDEN GTS sedans entered for the seventh round of the Australian GT Performance Championship failed to start today's races at Phillip Island following a controversy over tyre suitability and safety.
Race organiser PROCAR Australia had asked the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport to allow the Holdens to upgrade to 18 inch x 9 inch wheel rims instead of the current 18 in. x 8 in. size, after competitors had suffered a number of tyre failures during the season.
The competitors were concerned the narrower tyre and wheel combination could lead to failures, particularly on the high speed Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.
CAMS initially rejected the move last Wednesday, but after a series of negotiations culminating in a meeting last night involving the competitors and senior PROCAR and CAMS officials, CAMS approved two fitments for today only.
These were -
1. 18 in. x 8 in. rims with a road-legal Pirelli P Zero-C tyre, or
2. 18 in. x 9 in. rims with suitable slick racing tyres, only if agreed by all competitors in the field and affected cars to start from the read of the grid
However, none of the competitors was willing to run on the slower, road-legal tyre, and it was believed the second choice would not have achieved the necessary unanimous support.
PROCAR Australia Chairman and Chief Executive Ross Palmer said CAMS also placed conditions on its proposal that effectively negated PROCAR's technical management responsibilities for the balance of 2002.
"CAMS effectively said we could stand in the corner for the rest of the year with a dunce's cap on our head. That insults the intelligence of the entire PROCAR team," Mr Palmer said.
"This was a serious matter and it affected our competitors at a critical stage of the GT Performance Championship," he said.
"I'm disappointed by the processes CAMS has in place for dealing with such matters and also that PROCAR's expertise and research on this particular issue has not been given due credit.
"Nothing short of a serious investigation into the processes and methods of CAMS Motor Racing Committee will satisfy me. The gloves are off."
Mr Palmer said the ramifications of the issue went beyond the approval of a set of wheels.
PROCAR believed it was highly probable it would face legal action from competitors and in that case CAMS could also find itself joined in the proceedings.
At least eight competitors in various cars in the GT Performance and GT Production Car Championships suffered tyre failures or wheel bearing problems as a result of the high speeds and cornering forces experienced at Phillip Island.