Lee Holdsworth has demanded an apology from Supercars officials following the Safety Car controversy which marred the weekend’s action in New Zealand.
However, the Tickford Racing driver also believes future actions similar to Jamie Whincup’s ill-fated decision to pass the Safety Car warrant race exclusion.
Whincup and Holdsworth were effective first and second in Sunday’s Race 24 at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint before the Triple Eight driver elected to illegally pass the Safety Car. Holdsworth, meanwhile, held station and lost track position to those pitting under yellow.
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Whincup was slapped with a drive-through penalty and slumped to 16th by race’s end, while Holdsworth — having been stuck behind the Safety Car — wound up 15th.
After the race — which Scott McLaughlin won — Whincup directed inflammatory comments at officials, with Race Control coming under heavy public criticism from several teams and drivers post-race.
Whincup and Holdsworth’s teammate Cameron Waters — who also elected to remain behind the Safety Car and finished 14th — were issued ‘please explain’ letters from Australian governing body the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS).
Despite taking it upon himself to pass the Safety Car — a costly decision he regretted, and one he also made at Bathurst in 2015 — Whincup was adamant he won’t change his approach.
Officials defended the process after the race, saying an investigation into the Safety Car procedure will take place.
Regardless, Holdsworth — who was on for his first podium in over five years — told The Loud Pedal podcast he expects an apology from officials over the controversy.
“Drivers are being told to apologise for what they said, because they made a mistake. What about when Race Control makes a mistake, and they affect all of us?” Holdsworth said.
“We want apologies, and we want to move on. It’s one thing to make a mistake, we all accept there are human errors, but own up to it, man up and give us an apology.
“Tell us you’re going to improve the system, and move on.
“Because at the moment, we’re pretty much accepting that it’s going to happen again.”
However, Holdsworth added should a driver pass the Safety Car in future, race exclusion — rather than the drive-through penalty Whincup copped — would help send the appropriate message.
“This is no disrespect to Jamie or Triple Eight … but I want to call for a different penalty for when a rule is broken intentionally,” Holdsworth added.
“When Whincup passed the Safety Car, obviously he knew that was wrong. He passed it without the green light coming on.
“Why is there a not a difference between intentionally breaking the rules, and unintentionally breaking the rules?
“There is when it comes to driving infringements, there’s careless driving and there’s reckless driving.
“Jamie got a pit lane penalty for intentionally driving past the Safety Car. The next time it happens, the driver should be excluded from the race.”
Whincup was also slapped with a 15-second post-race penalty following Saturday’s Race 23 after he tipped Nick Percat into an early-race spin. Whincup crossed the line second, but was demoted to sixth after results were corrected post-penalty.
Percat, however, crossed the line 12th.
McLaughlin and Holdsworth — along with Percat at the time — agreed that the incident warranted a drive-through, and called on officials to be more consistent with penalties.
“I’ve been blown away by the 15-second penalties, compared to pit lane penalties,” McLaughlin said.
“With Jamie spinning Nick, I thought [Whincup] was well-clear down the inside.
“[The penalty] was after the race, which I thought was weird, then why it wasn’t a pit lane penalty, because it’s like anything I’ve seen before.
“I want to speak to [driving standards advisor Craig Baird] at the next race and ask why he got a 15-second penalty.
“[Whincup] should’ve been given a pit lane penalty,” Holdsworth added.
“He served 15 seconds, he went from second to sixth. Percat finished 12th.”