In a stunning twist, there is still hope Jamie Whincup could be crowned 2016 Bathurst 1000 champion after his Supercars team finally lodged an official appeal over the controversial Great Race finish.
Governing body Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) has refused to rule out any possible outcome at Whincup’s hearing in Melbourne on Tuesday night when the Holden star will appeal a time penalty that cost him a fifth Bathurst 1000 win.
“Contrary to media reports, the result of the Bathurst 1000 is still subject to the court’s final determination,” a CAMS statement said.
“The court has the power to impose its own penalty which may or may not include time penalties.”
The drama began when Whincup crossed the line first in Sunday’s Great Race, only to be relegated to 11th after copping a 15-second time penalty for his role in a late incident that ended the winning chances of Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin and Holden’s Garth Tander.
Holden’s Will Davison received the winner’s Peter Brock Trophy last weekend and looked set to hold onto it after Red Bull Racing suffered a setback on Friday.
An interim ruling by the National Court of Appeal knocked back RBR’s request to amend their appeal in a bid to have the charge dropped or the incident re-investigated.
As a result, RBR can now only appeal the severity of Whincup’s time penalty at Tuesday night’s hearing at the County Court of Victoria.
A Supercars statement said at best, Whincup’s punishment could be cut to a 10-second penalty, earning him eighth place in the Great Race and 38 extra championship points.
That would have ensured no change to the Bathurst podium.
CAMS has not ruled out any possible outcome, however, including Whincup being installed as a belated Bathurst winner after RBR officially lodged their appeal by the 5.55pm Friday deadline, having received a 24-hour extension from the governing body.
It is believed if RBR have the punishment successfully downgraded to a 10-second time penalty they can argue that Whincup “redressed” his race position behind McLaughlin before the spectacular lap 150 incident that cost the Volvo driver and Tander.
If they can prove that, Whincup’s penalty will be served and he will receive the Bathurst 1000 crown.
Supercars boss James Warburton said he preferred the Bathurst 1000 winner be decided on a race track, not a court room.
“Supercars Australia respects the right of all teams to appeal the decisions of stewards,” he said.
“However, it also recognises the groundswell of opinion from teams, drivers and fans who have expressed a strong desire to see one of Australia’s biggest sporting events decided on the racetrack and not in a court room.”
Either way, Whincup’s fate is not expected to be known until early next month.
A verdict may not be handed down until 14 days after the appeal is heard – in this case as late as November 2.
If unsuccessful, RBR can appeal through the FIA International Court of Appeal.