It’s hard to tell whether this was a tow truck that went out before a yellow flag could be thrown, or a marshal team that wasn’t on the ball with flags, but for some reason, there was a tow truck just off the racing line on lap two of this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge race [that appeared to be moving] under green flag conditions [see update below].
That’s right: green flag. No warning was given for oncoming traffic that there might be a tow truck on the track coming up. It took the marshals at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (often better known as Mosport) a little while to whip out the yellow for a full-course caution, but that didn’t happen until after a pack of cars caught up to the truck.
Johnny O’Connell in the number 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R nearly had a code brown as he led the pack of cars through Mosport’s Turn 1 as the truck crossed the to get to a stranded car. The truck was there to retrieve Bill Ziegler’s stranded number 95 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3.
The full-course caution didn’t appear for two laps, where it came out on lap 4.
For those of you keeping tally*, this isn’t the first time a tow truck has been sent out without a yellow flag as a heads-up to race traffic during a PWC race, either:
O’Connell led for nearly the whole race, but not without extreme pressure from behind. According to Sportscar365, only 0.539 seconds separated him from Butch Leitzinger’s number 20 Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3. GT Cup also had some crazy last-minute back-and-forth with leader Phil Fogg Jr. spinning his car with a cut tire, allowing Colin Thompson by for second place and Lorenzo Trefethen to take his first win of the season.
‘Twas a good race, except for the scary moment at the start. Marshals. Tow trucks. Race control. Somebody. Get it together, guys. There’s no excuse for a tow truck to be out on course before a yellow flag can be thrown to slow down race traffic.
Update: The television broadcast did a lousy job of showing it (they really only mentioned that a yellow was “being cleared” at 1 at the moment when all the cars narrowly missed the wrecker on course), but there was a local yellow for the tow truck. Several marshals who’ve written in to clarify the situation confirmed that a yellow was thrown at turn 1 for the truck and it was backed up by a steady yellow at turn 10. Turn 1 also displayed a white flag when the tow truck was on course as well. There were, in fact, two corners’ worth of notice that something was worth slowing down for at turn 1. While there’s still no excuse to send a wrecker across the track that close to oncoming race traffic, there was at least a local signal given to slow down two laps before the full-course yellow was out.
As 996C2 explained, putting a tow truck on course that close to oncoming race traffic would have been a snafu on race control’s part, not the marshals’. Tow trucks don’t go out unless they’re instructed to do so by race control. Full-course yellows, too, are also up to race control, and they’re something Pirelli World Challenge is trying to do less of in response to previous yellow-heavy races. The full-course caution was finally thrown after the tow truck radioed in that a flat tire wouldn’t allow them to flat-tow the car, and that they would have to roll it back out of the way. Responders attempting to move Ziegler’s car then still felt as if traffic was moving too fast for the responders on track to be safe, so that’s when the tower finally called for a full-course yellow.
Honestly, though? I wouldn’t have been mad to see cars jump behind a pace car for a full-course yellow from the start of this recovery effort. I’d rather have a bit less green-flag race time than put anyone in danger of hitting a recovery vehicle or workers on track when a car is stopped in a precarious place like that. It’s good that there was at least a local yellow, but drivers do a much better job of watching their speed when they’re held up by a pace car.
So, my apologies for speculating that it may have been a marshalling oops. Cars were still moving at a pretty quick pace and the flags at that corner weren’t all that visible or explained very well on the broadcast stream, which threw a lot of us who were watching the race off.
*Add another checkmark in “races where Olivier Beretta jumped the start,” too. Yes. Again. Someone needs a stern talkin’ to, to say the least.
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