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National Court reports - August 2009

REPORTS FROM THE MOTOR SPORTS COUNCIL NATIONAL COURT, SITTING TUESDAY 4TH AUGUST 2009

 

 

TONY SCOTT ANDREWS (Chairman)

Raymond Harris

Mike Garton

 

 

CASE No J2009/17 – Preci Spark

 

IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL BY PRECI-SPARK

 

This is an Appeal brought by Preci-Spark against the decision of the Clerk of the Course dated 4th July 2009 made in the course of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, 2009.

 

Preci-Spark (“the Appellant”) (represented by Mr. Roger Rose) is the entrant of an Ascari which runs in the Championship’s GT3 Class.  The Respondent to this Appeal is Rollcentre Racing Limited (“Rollcentre”) (represented by Mr. Jamie Champkin) which is the entrant of a Mosler GT3 (“the Mosler”).  The Mosler also runs in the GT3 Class.  It is the Appellant’s case that the Mosler should compete not in the GT3 Class but in the Invitation Class.

 

The history of the matter and the background to this Appeal is, to say the least, unfortunate. 

 

The Mosler has competed in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship (“the Championship”) for several years.

 

The first Round of the Championship this year was on April 11th at Oulton Park.  The Appellant intimated their concerns with regard to the eligibility of the Mosler at that meeting but it was apparently explained to them that the Mosler did have current homologation. 

 

The second Round of the Championship was held on May 9th at Spa.  It is said that there was a meeting of teams and officials where the question of Mosler eligibility was “publicly rehearsed”. 

 

It was not until the third Round of the Championship held on May 30th at Rockingham that the Appellant lodged a Protest against the eligibility of the Mosler (the First Protest).  That Protest was rejected and an Appeal was lodged as an Eligibility Appeal.  A hearing date was set for June 29th.

 

The fourth Round of the Championship was held on June 13th at Knockhill, i.e. before the hearing of the Appeal.  That Appeal did not proceed and it never came before the National Court.

 

A further Protest (the Second Protest) in similar terms to the First Protest was lodged at the fifth Round of the Championship which was held on July 4th at Snetterton.  That Protest also was rejected and it is the Appeal against that decision which comes before this Court.

 

Rollcentre raised procedural issues relating to the validity of the Appeal itself such that it was necessary for there to be a preliminary hearing at which directions were given by this Court on July 27th when it was determined that this Appeal would proceed in accordance with the Sporting Code where both parties would be represented and heard on the Appeal set for today.

 

Rollcentre argues that (i) the Appellant having lodged a Protest and appealed the decision made on 30th May is precluded from lodging a further Protest on the same basis on 4th July and (ii) that the decision reached by the Stewards of the RAC in January 1994 in the case of Madgwick International Ltd. which, they maintain, requires any Protest to be lodged at the earliest opportunity and not after the event once the Protestor has ascertained the performance capability of the car to be protested, precludes the Appellant from lodging this Appeal.

 

It is the view of the National Court that it is appropriate for this Appeal to be heard as, in answer to (i) above, it was the Appellant’s intention on May 30th to lodge an Appeal in the ordinary way and they did so within the time limits required by the relevant section of the Championship Regulations themselves.  In the event a more immediate time limit applied than that indicated by the Championship Regulations (upon which the Appellant had relied) such that the Appeal was withdrawn and the matter never came before this Court for adjudication.  It is considered that the Appellant was effectively misled by the Championship Regulations themselves, such that it was necessary for the Appellant to lodge a further Protest and to appeal against the decision subsequently made on July 4th.

 

In answer to (ii) above in the case of Madgwick International Ltd. it was found that the Protest could and indeed should have been lodged at the time of scrutineering but in that instance the Protestor delayed until after the race.  In the present case the Appellant lodged its Appeal at the time of scrutineering – it did not wait.  The subsequent Appeal was also made within the relevant time frame. 

 

It is further said by Rollcentre (again extending the Madgwick International Ltd. principle that one should not, as colloquially termed, “lie doggo”) that the Appellant’s initial Protest should have been made at the first Round of the Championship and not delayed until the fifth.  The position, however, is that at that first meeting the Appellant was advised that the Mosler had a current Homologation Certificate and no Protest was lodged.  At the subsequent Spa event there was a meeting when the matter was discussed and, presumably on the basis of what was said at that time, no Protest was lodged.  At the third event a Protest was lodged.  This was followed by the Appeal referred to above and the only reason that did not proceed was because of the Championship Regulations themselves.  At the fourth event no Protest was lodged as the Appellant was awaiting the hearing date for its Appeal which had already been set for June 29th.  At the fifth event the Appellant, having had to withdraw its first Appeal, lodged a further Protest, the rejection of which gave rise to this Appeal.

 

In all the circumstances the Court does not consider that the actions of the Appellant and its ability to Appeal is affected by the decision in Madgwick.  Neither does the Court consider it equitable for the Appellant to be deprived of its right to Protest and Appeal simply because they relied upon the procedures contained within the Championship Regulations themselves.

 

Looking now at the actual facts of the case one finds that, as indicated by the title, this is a British Championship.  It runs under an International Permit issued by the MSA.  The “organisers” are said to be collectively and separately the BRSCC and the Stephane Rattel Organisation Limited (“SRO”). 

 

The Championship Regulations show that the Championship comprises four classes, namely GT3, GT4, Supersport and an Invitation Class.

 

It is pertinent to note that at Article 5.1 of the Championship’s Technical Regulations the reference to GT3 cars is to “Homologated GT3” cars and that “all cars must comply with the Technical Regulations (published below).” 

 

One notes also that Article 5.2.1 states that GT3 cars “will run strictly to the FIA GT3 Regulations” and that the Invitation Class “will be for cars, selected by the organisers, which for any reason do not comply with the Regulations for either GT3, GT4 or Supersport.  Entries to the Invitation Class is totally at the discretion of the organisers.”

 

There is a section at Article 5.3 entitled “Validity of the Homologation” wherein reference is made to homologation lapsing “when the FIA homologation ceases”.

 

Reference to Articles 5.7.1 “Chassis”,  5.8.1 “Bodywork”,  5.9.1 “Engine”,  5.10 “Exhaust System and Silencing”,  5.11.1 “Suspension”,  5.12.1 “Transmission”,  5.13.1 “Electrics”, 5.14.1 “Brakes”, 5.15 “Wheels and Steering”,  5.18.1 “Weight Limit”  and 5.12.1 “Fuel Tanks” all contain a clearly set-out requirement for the GT3 Category that “these cars will run strictly to FIA GT3 Technical Regulations and their current respective technical forms.”

 

It has been established and is admitted by Rollcentre that the Mosler does not have current FIA Homologation nor has it ever been homologated by the FIA. 

 

The Mosler has, however, been homologated by the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium and it is argued by Rollcentre that such homologation is sufficient for the purposes of the British GT Championship and that FIA homologation is not required.  Reference to that Belgian Homologation Certificate shows that it bears the words “Only Valid for National Events”. 

 

It is the view of this Court that homologation by the Belgian ASN is, with all due respect to that body, of no validity or effect for the purposes of a British Championship requiring GT3 cars to be “Homologated GT3 cars running strictly to FIA GT3 Technical Regulations and their current respective technical forms”. 

 

On the narrow issue before this Court, therefore, of whether or not the Mosler GT3 should compete in the Homologated GT3 Category, the answer of this Court is that it should not.  If it is eligible at all it would seem that, as the Appellant suggests, it should compete within the Invitation Class.  Its acceptance into that Class is a matter for the Organisers and not for this Court. 

 

On the wider issue of the effect this decision will have on the Championship itself and those competing within it, it is undoubtedly unfortunate and regrettable that the decision of this Court is made at this stage of the Championship.  It is, however, the view of this Court that the problems and difficulties, especially for the Mosler, would seem to have been caused in large part by the actions of SRO in apparently knowingly permitting the Mosler to compete in a Class for which it was patently ineligible.  This would seem to be confirmed by Stephane Rattel’s response to enquiries made of him on behalf of this Court wherein he states by e-mail dated 30th July 2009 that “the Mosler was made eligible from the beginning of the introduction of the GT3 Class, as a “national” GT3.  This category was reserved for cars which did not meet the FIA homologation requirements, as they failed to fulfil the road car production number requirements.  It was introduced in both the British and Belgian GT Championships …”

 

Suffice it to say that whilst there may be both FIA GT3 and National GT3 categories in Belgium there is no such “National GT3” Class within the British GT Championship and yet the car was permitted by SRO to run within the Homologated GT3 class. 

 

It follows from the above, therefore, that the decision of this Court is that the Appeal is allowed and the fee paid in respect of the Second Protest and this Appeal are to be refunded.

 

Set down at 12 Noon on Thursday, 6th August 2009

 

 

CASE No J2009/16 – Robbie Gallier

 

IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL BY ROBBIE GALLIER

 

This matter comes before the Court as an Eligibility Appeal, Robbie Gallier having been excluded from a Kart Meeting held at Clay Pigeon on 28th June this year notwithstanding the fact that Robbie Gallier’s father signed the non-compliance report in terms that he agreed Robbie’s kart failed to comply with the Regulations.

 

Robbie Gallier was competing in the Honda Cadet Super One Championship.  At the conclusion of the Final some thirty eight engines were examined and three were found not to conform, one of which was that of the Appellant.  It was established that the valve stem oil seal was missing.

 

Representations have been received on behalf of the Appellant from his father, Julien Gallier, and from one Jeff Johnson of Prokart Engineering in terms that because of the high revs used by this engine in this application the oil seal breaks up and drops into the engine and that this results in no increase in performance. 

 

Representations have also been received from MSA Technical Commissioner, Mr. Paul Klaassen, who refers to the relevant Technical Regulations which state that “the engines must be completely standard unmodified and that all components will remain in place” …. (unless it is specifically permitted for them to be removed.) 

 

The Regulations in fact make no provision for the removal of valve stem oil seals.  In this instance it is considered that the absence of a rubber oil seal is neither “as original” nor “standard”. 

 

It is the view of this Court that karts must comply with the Technical Regulations for the duration of the event.  In this instance one component, i.e. the valve stem oil seal, was missing and it is considered that the decision reached by the Clerk of the Course was correct.

 

The Appeal is accordingly disallowed and the Appeal fee forfeit.  The Appellant is ordered to pay £250 toward the costs of this Appeal.

                                                                                                

This decision was set down at 18.15 hours on 4th August 2009.

 

 

CASE No J2009/15 – Simon Carr

 

IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL BY SIMON CARR

 

This matter comes before the Court as an Eligibility Appeal, Simon Carr having been excluded from a Kart Meeting held at Clay Pigeon on 28th June this year.

 

Simon Carr was competing in the Honda Cadet Super One Championship.  At the conclusion of the Final some thirty eight engines were examined and three were found not to conform, one of which was that of the Appellant.  It was established that the valve stem oil seal was missing.

 

Representations have been received on behalf of the Appellant from his father, Rupert Carr, and from one Jeff Johnson of Prokart Engineering in terms that because of the high revs used by this engine in this application the oil seal breaks up and drops into the engine and that this results in no increase in performance. 

 

Representations have also been received from MSA Technical Commissioner, Mr. Paul Klaassen, who refers to the relevant Technical Regulations which state that “the engines must be completely standard unmodified and that all components will remain in place” …. (unless it is specifically permitted for them to be removed.) 

 

The Regulations in fact make no provision for the removal of valve stem oil seals.  In this instance it is considered that the absence of a rubber oil seal is neither “as original” nor “standard”. 

 

It is the view of this Court that karts must comply with the Technical Regulations for the duration of the event.  In this instance one component, i.e. the valve stem oil seal, was missing and it is considered that the decision reached by the Clerk of the Course was correct.

 

The Appeal is accordingly disallowed and the Appeal fee forfeit.  The Appellant is ordered to pay the sum of £250 toward the costs of this Appeal.

 

This decision was set down at 18.25 hours on 4th August 2009.

 

 

CASE No J2009/13 – Harry Tincknell

 

IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL BY HARRY TINCKNELL

 

Mr. Tincknell is represented by Mr. Simon Taylor and the Motor Sports Association by Mr. Howard Lapsley.

 

A decision was made by the Clerk of the Course dated 17th May 2009 whereby Mr. Tincknell was excluded from the meeting held at Donington Park on that day.  Mr. Tincknell was found to have contravened MSA General Regulation C(d)1(e).  Mr. Tincknell appealed that decision to the Stewards of the meeting, the Appeal being heard on 30th May 2009.  That Appeal was disallowed and the decision of the Clerk of the Course upheld.  Mr. Tincknell appealed that Stewards’ decision and it is this Appeal that comes before the Court today.

 

The facts are that car No. 1 driven by Mr. Harry Tincknell was found to have collided with car No. 20 driven by Mr. Jordan Oakes during the course of the Formula Renault UK Championship Race.  Oakes’ car left the track whilst Tincknell’s car continued and finished the race.  No protest was lodged by Oakes but the matter was investigated by the Clerk of the Course and judicial action was taken.

 

This Court has today heard evidence from Jordan Oakes who having initially said that the incident occurred a long time ago and that he really could not remember, did, however, maintain that Tincknell’s car had moved across twice, there had been contact between his car and that of Tincknell and that such contact had been sufficient to push his car off the track.  Oakes maintained that when this occurred his car was already at the extreme edge of the track.

 

In his evidence Tincknell maintained that there was no contact between his car and that of Oakes.  Evidence has also been heard from James Soden, Paul Jackson and Mark Bateman, each of whom states that an examination of Tincknell’s car in Parc Ferme immediately after the race disclosed no sign of contact or damage of any sort. 

 

Evidence was also heard from Anthony Davidson who appears as expert witness called on behalf of the Appellant .

 

This Court has also today seen both video evidence and a number of still photographs taken from that video.

 

This Court is not satisfied on the basis of evidence received today that there was contact between the cars driven by Oakes and Tincknell.  The Court finds that, at worst, this was a racing incident.

 

This Appeal is accordingly allowed, the Appeal fees paid by Tincknell in respect of his Appeals to this Court and to the Stewards of the Meeting are to be refunded, he is to be reinstated in the results of the race, they to be re-issued and the penalty points endorsed on his licence are to be expunged.

 

This decision was set down at 13.40 hours on 4th August 2009.

 

 

CASE No J2009/06 James Glenister

 

IN THE MATTER OF AN APPEAL BY JAMES GLENISTER

 

This matter comes before the Court as an Eligibility Appeal, Mr. Glenister having been excluded from a Kart Meeting held at Clay Pigeon on 10th May this year. 

 

Mr. Glenister was competing in the Senior Rotax Max Championship.  At the conclusion of the third heat his kart was the subject of eligibility scrutineering in the course of which the carburettor was examined and deemed to be ineligible in that the idle jet emulsion tube was of the wrong size.

 

Having reviewed all the facts in this matter the Motor Sports Association offers no evidence to this Court.

 

In the circumstances this Appeal is accordingly allowed and the Appeal fee paid by James Glenister is to be refunded.

 

This decision was set down at 18.00 hours on 4th August 2009.