The chances of Shane van Gisbergen sealing the Australia Supercars Championship on home turf at Pukekohe next month have increased.
Last night Van Gisbergen’s own Triple Eight Race Engineering team lost their appeal against the time penalty imposed on teammate Jamie Whincup at the Bathurst 1000 earlier this month.
It means Van Gisbergen will take a significant 139 point lead in the championship into this weekend’s Gold Coast 600 event, with two further stops to complete the championship, in New Zealand’s Auckland SuperSprint and the Sydney 500 at Homebush.
If van Gisbergen can grab the maximum 300 points on offer over the two 300km races on the Gold Coast and Whincup has issues, then he could grab the championship in his home city of Auckland.
He would become the first New Zealander in two decades to win the championship, which has seen a revival in Kiwi fortunes with three drivers in the top 10, led by van Gisbergen on top, Scott McLaughlin fifth and Fabian Coulthard 10th.
Had Whincup won his appeal then he could have been instated as Bathurst champion for a fifth time and catapult back up to the top of the championship rankings ahead of van Gisbergen, or at least significantly lessen the current differential after finishing 11th with his time penalty.
The decision handed down by the Appeal Hearing at the county court of Victoria last night will no doubt add further fuel to a tense team garage between the two championship contenders for the Gold Coast round.
The Chairman of the Court announced that the appeal was dismissed after debate regarding whether Triple Eight had a right of appeal against a decision made by the Stewards during a race.
Whincup’s team appealed to the severity of the 15 second post-race time penalty for Careless Driving after causing contact with New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin near the end of the 1000km race at Mt Panorama.
Supercars Australia said it welcomes the decision by the CAMS appointed National Court of Appeal in relation to Triple Eight’s appeal.
“We look forward to this weekend’s Castrol Gold Coast 600 and an exciting conclusion to the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship over the coming month,” said James Warburton, Supercars Australia chief executive.
The Court will release its reasoning for the decision within 14 days while Triple Eight has seven days to appeal to the FIA International Court of Appeal (ICA).