Politeness led to Triple Eight team orders confusion

Triple Eight boss Roland Dane says an eagerness to be “polite” to Jamie Whincup sparked the controversy over a misconceived team orders regulation in Supercars.

The Red Bull Holden squad was at the centre of confusion regarding team orders in the series in New Zealand recently, orchestrating a last-lap switch between Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen under the pretence of fuel concerns.

Team manager Mark Dutton later refused to admit the cars were actually switched for strategic reasons, which suggested that Triple Eight was trying to duck a regulation prohibiting team orders.

Supercars has since clarified that a minor tweak to that regulation means teams orders are technically now allowed, despite wide-ranging understanding in the paddock to the contrary.

Triple Eight boss Dane, however, is certain that there was no confusion over the ruling inside his garage.

He says it was definitely a team order to move Whincup over for van Gisbergen, and reasons that the peculiar behaviour in the wake of the Pukekohe race from Dutton and the team was to spare Whincup’s blushes.

“We would have wanted to address that anyway,” Dane told Motorsport.com when asked if the move was a team order.

“[There was no] cautiousness over the [understanding of] the rule, but cautiousness over, I believe, the point of view of the driver’s pride. Not just the driver, but his engineer etcetera.

“It’s polite, I suppose, to want to lessen the impact.

“We knew the word had been taken out [of the regulation] at the beginning of the year. Because the meaning was never meant to be what it was construed as before.

“Dutto is an ex race engineer, and he didn’t like it when someone told him what to do. I think he was trying to be nice and polite to as many people as possible.”

The clarification over the regulation from Supercars comes ahead of the title showdown between van Gisbergen and DJR Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin in Newcastle.

McLaughlin leads van Gisbergen by just 14 points, which means swapping drivers has the potential to majorly impact the outcome of the championship.

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