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HomeNewsBathurstTriple Eight laughs off ‘professional foul’ theory

Triple Eight laughs off ‘professional foul’ theory

TRIPLE Eight team manager Mark Dutton has dismissed suggestions his squad committed a ‘professional foul’ on its way to fifth place in the Bathurst 12 Hour.

The team’s #888 Mercedes-AMG of Shane van Gisbergen, Broc Feeney and Maxi Goetz qualified second and was among the contenders early before falling back into the pack.

Efforts to improve the car’s performance included changing the rear wing angle while the car was undergoing a routine pitstop in the ninth hour.

That earned a drive-through penalty as tools such as that required to change the wing are only allowed to be used in the garage.

Dutton admitted soon after on the television broadcast that he’d simply “misread the rules” amid the tuning effort, which also included removing blanking from the front air intake.

However, it soon became apparent that serving the drive-through was likely quicker than making the change in the garage, leading to speculation about the manoeuvre.  

Speaking to V8 Sleuth post-race, Dutton conceded the drive-through was quicker than going to the garage but reiterated he had simply made a mistake.

“If we had have done it in hindsight the correct way (in the garage), we would have lost more than we gained by doing it the incorrect way,” he said.

“By the time you come into the garage and do the change it’s probably longer than it takes to do the pitlane penalty. But we didn’t think that at the time. It was a cold mistake.”

The Triple Eight Mercedes ended the race fifth. Pic: Ross Gibb

When prompted about speculation it was a ‘professional foul’, Dutton added: “Really? They’re giving us too much credit! Maybe I should take that, it makes me feel less dumb!

“But it wasn’t like that. You wouldn’t do that because you get a penalty. You’d never plan for that.

“It’s one of those things that’s a good reminder, you see it every year, different teams making different mistakes because they’re jumping from one category to another.

“We’re so used to having the freedoms in Supercars, just didn’t read every single rule word for word and take that into account.

“You try not to make those mistakes, like everyone, but we made one today.”

The pitstop and the drive-through conspired to put the #888 machine a lap down, from which it never truly recovered.

The #888 did not appear to have the pace of the leaders. Pic: Ross Gibb

Feeney took the flag a lap adrift of the winners in fifth, with the lack of a Safety Car in the last four hours preventing any hopes of late heroics.

Asked if fifth place was all the car was capable of, Dutton surmised: “Ultimately it looked that way, hats off to the other guys, they did a cracker job, didn’t put a foot wrong.

“We’ll have to analyse some strategy things. We were definitely in a stronger position earlier in the day.

“We have to analyse exactly what led us to not being in a strong position as the day went on. Did we make a (wrong) strategic decision or was it all just car pace?

“It’s easy to say a few opinions right now but unfortunately we don’t have the answers yet.”

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