Twenty-five cars are currently under investigation for various incidents during the Long Beach Grand Prix round of the Pirelli World Challenge, including that of Ryan Dalziel. Dalziel was so frustrated with how this race went that he just walked off the podium during the celebration afterwards.
Only the GT, GTA and GT Cup classes raced at the Pirelli World Challenge’s “Roar by the Shore” this weekend, and over half the field is under investigation for what quickly became a massive yellow-flag fest. The narrow street course combined with some questionable driving moves left no one happy with the outcome. The (provisionally) winning GT driver, Olivier Beretta, was blamed by many for causing a major incident that damaged Kevin Estre and Johnny O’Connell’s cars, plus it looks like his Ferrari jumped the start.
“It was difficult because each time you went under yellow, you had to restart everything,” Beretta told Pirelli World Challenge in the wrap-up afterwards. “Each time on the restart, it is a challenge. I’m happy with the result, I just feel sorry for Johnny (O’Connell) — we went three wide into the corner and there was contact. I am sorry for him — I don’t think it was my mistake, it was just that on a street race right there, we could not be three wide.”
Sportscar365 released a list of all the cars involved in incidents that are under investigation last night.
Drivers took to Twitter to express their displeasure with how the race was run afterwards:
It was third place GT driver Ryan Dalziel who made the biggest statement after the race itself had ended, though:
This race was so bad in every measurable aspect—quality of driving, series response and green-flag racing time—that Dalziel just walked off the podium afterwards.
Dalziel explained the walk-off in a series of tweets last night:
Currently, no word has come out on the status of the twenty-five cars that are being investigated for incidents during yesterday’s race.
“We have over 20 separate incidents to review and respond to. We are working through the all the data and video now. We will have our update today,” explained Pirelli World Challenge VP/General Manager of Marketing & Communications Greg Gill.
Drivers are frustrated at the lack of communication. Some of the ones named aren’t even sure why they’re on Sportscar365’s list, including Dalziel:
Apparently the list released to the media of cars under investigation conflicts with the list sent out to some (though not all) of the participants:
Longtime Pirelli World Challenge racer Peter Cunningham has the most likely explanation for the disconnect between the two lists. The list printed on Sportscar365 includes all of the cars involved in the incidents that are under review, many of which are not necessarily the ones who were responsible for the incidents:
Cunningham’s car was also on Sportscar365’s list for being involved in contact with other cars, despite Peter’s spectacularly clean drive from a 30th place start all the way up to a ninth place finish.
Even then, when over half of your entry list was involved in on-track incidents, there’s a huge problem that needs to be addressed.
Pirelli World Challenge has the opportunity to be a fantastic series. It’s professional sportscar racing in the United States without the higher costs of endurance racing. There’s increased interest from manufacturers and teams alike that gives it a healthy, huge field of diverse and interesting cars. The sprint racing format is excellent, provided the cars are allowed to get some green-flag racing time in.
The officiating clearly isn’t there yet for the growing series. Perhaps harsher penalties are needed to discourage drivers from treating GT3 cars like Spec Piñata’s worst. These same cars are supposed to show up for a race at Barber Motorsports Park in just four days, which makes the carnage from this weekend all the more difficult for some teams to bear.
Officiating could be more open, consistent and perhaps a tad harsher as well. Race Director Brian Till wasn’t even working in that capacity this weekend due to conflicting obligations as a broadcaster with NBC and FOX, and some suggest that this lack of consistent, season-long direction showed in how the race was handled.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard after the race, though, is about the lack of immediate action from the series itself. Had the drivers seen penalties getting handed out (or at least the announcement that incidents were under investigation) right after the race, it would have at least shown to them that the series is willing to take a stand against dangerous driving on track. I know on-the-spot drive-through penalties are a possibility in PWC because Nick Catsburg got one for crossing the pit entry line at the season opener. That’s how you hit drivers where it really hurts when they obviously act a fool on the track: force them to drop back during the race.
Unfortunately for those looking for a quick turnaround on investigations, this wait for answers appears to be Pirelli World Challenge’s standard operating procedure. “We take 24 hours to review all incidents,” explained Gill. In other words, having this day-long wait for a result isn’t something they screwed up for Long Beach.
While there are benefits to this approach—namely, they have time to make sure they’re doing the right thing before handing out a penalty—the drawback is that obvious on-track infractions may get caught in the same review process, and competitors are left in limbo until that final decision is released. (We will be making an update on this story as soon as the final decisions are released, and those decisions are expected to be released today.)
Clearly, as shown by the Twittersplosion happening after the race, the series needs to be better at communicating exactly what they’re up to both to the media as well as to their own drivers. The series says it’s “working on assessing the issues,” but if the drivers themselves aren’t even sure what’s going on after a race, that’s a problem they need to address in order for the series to keep growing.
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