Save Larko campaigner goes after paddle shift

The fan behind the Save Larko campaign has set his sights on keeping paddle shift out of Supercars.

Save Larko campaigner goes after paddle shift
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Supercars fan council member Mark Doust has set up a new online campaign aimed at what has been a flashpoint of controversy around Supercars' new Gen3 rules – the gearshift.

The campaign has started with a survey that went live earlier today, the data from which it will use to petition Supercars as it decides between a stick shift or paddle shift for its next-generation racers.

Doust has experienced heading up a successful fan movement, his Save Larko campaign thought to have played a pivotal role in Supercars backflipping on a decision late last year to axe TV presenter Mark Larkham.

Save Larko drew around 30,000 signatures.

This latest campaign comes during a critical time in the decision-making process regarding paddles or stick in the Gen3 cars.

Supercars says it will make a decision on the shifting system within the next two weeks, a frustrated series boss Sean Seamer doing his best to deflect attention away from the controversial matter during a tense media conference in Bathurst on Friday.

"As a member of the Supercars fan council, I’ve been privy to meetings regarding Gen3," said Doust.

"During the meetings in 2021 it’s fair to say that it’s more of a presentation to the fan council, not a request for meaningful input from the fan council.

"It’s a disingenuous ‘focus group’ style occasion, where the decisions have already been made, and the decision-makers are seeking rapturous applause from the crowd.

"It’s symptomatic of a category that still to this day, despite the appearance of having a fan council and the Larko debacle, struggles to recognise the DNA of the Supercars fan.

"Some members of the fan council are indifferent to the gearshift, but it's a shame we don't have a formal structure to capture what the council represents.

"Heel-and-toe is an increasingly rare talent. A skill required by grass roots Australian drivers to enter feeder categories, and ultimately the biggest prize, a Supercars seat.

"Paddle shift will only dilute the entertainment. Drivers will make less mistakes, and less mistakes mean less passing and racing.

"You’re sailing close to giving the cars ABS and air-conditioning.

"Aussie Supercars are meant to be toughest and most difficult to wrangle around a race track. Drivers are meant to salivate and sweat at the thought of driving them across Skyline.

"Supercars, have the courage to forge your own identity in the world of motorsport. Protect Australian uniqueness, and celebrate the fact we have some of the toughest drivers in the world."

The stick versus paddle debate has been a key topic since the Gen3 concept was first announced, with the majority of drivers against a move to paddles.

The concerns are that it will make the cars easier to drive, while also diminishing the theatre of on-board TV pictures of drivers busy at the controls of the car.

Fans also voted against paddles in an online poll run by team owner Ryan Walkinshaw earlier this year.

Supercars has previously said that it will move to an electronic Automatic Gear Shift, fitted to the current transaxle gearboxes, regardless of how the shift is delivered.

The prototype Camaro is currently fitted with paddles while the Mustang has both paddles and an electronically-controlled stick.

While similar in appearance to the current system, the electronic nature of the new stick system means heel-and-toe still wouldn't be necessary.

However the current mechanical system could feasibly be retained given AGS will be added to the existing transmission.

Seamer did hint at that not being out of the question yesterday when he said, "if they’re going to have a manual shift then we’re going to have to make some changes to the engines, just to protect them."

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