by Chris Hall & David Phillips on September 7th, 2010
The iRacing.com Competition Committee has suspended Richard Towler and Derek Wood from the next two online racing events in the iRacing World Championship Road Racing (iWCRR) series and placed both drivers on probation for the remainder of the 2010 iWCRR and NASCAR iRacing Series World Championship as the result of tactics they employed during Saturday’s iWCRR event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the closing moments of qualifying, Towler used the pit access road to take a tighter line around the final corner before rejoining the main circuit just ahead of the pit entry markers . . . securing pole position in the process.
Although Towler stuck to the conventional line in the race, Wood utilized the “pit lane line” during the opening laps of the race to hold-off Dion Vergers and Darren Marsh for fourth spot. Wood resumed using the normal racing line after Shannon Whitmore, iRacing Director of Competition, instructed him to stop using the pit lane.
Following the race, Towler and Wood argued that there were no specific regulations prohibiting the use of pit lane as part of the racing line and that they were justified in taking advantage of any opportunity to get an edge on the competition.
“I knew it would be a problem if I set a decent lap via it but as far as I’m concerned it’s legal otherwise I wouldn’t of done it,” Towler wrote after the race. “There’s no defined line around the oval part and pit entrance so the line I took was just an alternate racing line within the limits of the simulation. This is a hardcore competition, you have to do everything possible to gain an advantage that’s within the limits of the sim.”
“It was not against the rules, and I have no problem taking advantage of anything that is available to me legally,” wrote Wood. “Shannon Whitmore told me to stop using the access road, and I did . . . If Shannon had said this wouldn’t be allowed prior to the race, I certainly wouldn’t have done it, but as it was I had no indication that there would be a problem with it from race control. And to be completely honest, I didn’t want any indication that it would be against the rules because I knew that only a few drivers in the race would be willing to use it.”
The iRacing Competition Committee didn’t buy their arguments.
“This was a clear violation of the Sporting Code and the spirit of fair competition,” said Tony Gardner, Competition Committee member and president of iRacing.com. “Everyone participating in the race knew the pit lane access road is not part of the racing surface. In fact, Richard and Derek made comments to that effect after the race.
The iRacing World Championship Road Racing Series is one of iRacing’s elite series and the competitors are expected to behave accordingly, setting the highest standards of sportsmanship and professionalism.
“Therefore, the Competition Committee had a clear obligation to penalize Richard and Derek for their behavior.”
Gardner also noted that the timing of the announcement of the penalties was consistent with the actions of other motorsports sanctioning bodies.
“iRacing does not want to over-officiate events during the heat of competition,” he said. “Whether it’s Formula One, NASCAR, IndyCar or iRacing, the results are not finalized until officials have reviewed any questionable tactics or behaviour during the race. In this case, the Competition Committee undertook a thorough review of the iWCRR race at Indianapolis before reaching a decision we firmly believe is in the best interest of our members and the integrity of all our racing series.”