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Bathurst’s unique Safety Car rules explained

WE’RE fast approaching race day at Mount Panorama when the Safety Car is bound to throw a few spanners in the works.

The Repco Supercars Championship rulebook takes a couple of key twists when it comes to the Bathurst 1000, as V8 Sleuth explores here.

First is what is colloquially known as the ‘lucky dog’ rule.

Introduced in 2020, the regulation allows lapped runners to unlap themselves, which in turns helps keep more cars in contention come the home stretch.

The process will unfold towards the end of a Safety Car period, when cars one or more laps behind will be instructed by race control to pass between “T18 and T19.7” – effectively down Conrod Straight.

The pit lane will be closed to those particular cars, who then can recover as much ground as possible as the Safety Car drops the field and the restart takes place.

There is a catch to the lucky dog concept, however.

“If the RD (race director) considers track conditions are unsuitable, the lapped Cars will not be permitted to pass the SC (Safety Car),” reads rule 10.2.9.3.c.

“Decisions made in respect of this unlapping procedure are not subject to protest,” adds 10.2.9.3.d.

This rule proved a bone of contention at the Bathurst 12 Hour, where wet conditions meant the lucky dog was not available for much of the race.

The second key regulation to consider has undergone change for the 2022 edition of the Great Race.

Pic: Mark Horsburgh

The former 10.2.13 rule has been deleted.

It had read: “Prior to the lead Car crossing the Control Line at the end of a SC deployment, or on the restart lap, any Car that is two (2) or more laps behind the lead Car must reposition itself by driving through the Pit Lane so that it is not in front of any Car that is less than two (2) laps behind the lead Car.”

That is no longer, although a provision does remain to order cars correctly in the case of a late restart.

“Should a SC deployment end eight (8) laps or less from the last lap of a race, or ten (10) minutes or less prior to the time certain finish time of a race as published in the Supplementary Regulations, any Car that is one (1) or more laps behind the leader must reposition itself by driving through the Pit Lane so that it is not in front of any Car that is on the lead lap,” remains in effect, per the event supplementary regulations.

Therefore, for the bulk of the race, frontrunners who have a lapped runner between them and a rival will retain the advantage of the buffer they had earnt during green flag conditions.

That will only not apply in the case of a restart in the dying laps, whereby lapped cars will be cleared via the pitlane to set up a grandstand finish.

Two of the past three Bathurst 1000s have had a Safety Car restart inside the final eight laps.

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