Will Davison unhappy at Triple Eight Holden team's new Bathurst appeal

Supercharged: Will Davison celebrates on the Bathurst podium. Photo: Getty Images
Supercharged: Will Davison celebrates on the Bathurst podium. Photo: Getty Images

Bathurst 1000 champion Will Davison is unhappy that his upset victory has been tarnished by the week-long controversy caused by the efforts of his best friend Jamie Whincup's team to overturn the result.

Amid heated debate about the Triple Eight Holden team's appeal against the careless driving penalty that cost Whincup the race, Davison has declared that his and team owner/co-driver Jonathon Webb's win isn't up for dispute.

"It should never have been questioned," he told Fairfax Media. "Races are decided on the track and especially with an event that's so big, it should be left that way."

There was uproar among motor racing fans after it was revealed on Friday that Triple Eight tried to change the grounds of its appeal to contest Davison's win, fuelled by Supercars chief James Warburton's criticism of the team's bid to question "the umpire's decision" after the race.

Social media was rife with outrage over both Warburton's unprecedented intervention into the argument and Triple Eight team owner Roland Dane's bid to challenge the result on a technicality after initially indicating he was only seeking to reduce the severity of Whincup's penalty.

On balance, public opinion appeared to be in favour of Supercars' stance that, like an AFL or NRL grand final, the result of the Bathurst 1000 – or any race in the V8 championship – must be final at the chequered flag.

Davison agreed that the result should not have been challenged after the fact and offered a veiled criticism of the tactics of Triple Eight, which ironically is paid to provide technical support to his small Tekno Autosports team to run its single-car T8-built Darrell Lea Stix Racing Commodore entry.

"It should have been made very clear publicly early on that the win was never in doubt," he said. "I wouldn't have thought anyone involved in this sport, even opposition, would want to stoop to that level."

Added to the potential awkwardness, Davison and Whincup have been best friends since their go-kart racing days and regularly socialise on the Gold Coast, where both Melbourne-born drivers live.

But Davison is adamant that the controversial finish and subsequent events haven't strained their relationship.

"No, absolutely not," he said. "It's above our heads. It's politics and it's business. We just drive the race cars. He's genuinely happy for me to win, he's genuinely gutted for himself. At the end of the day, he's genuinely happy for us and we won't discuss the politics any further because we're not politicians.

"There's been no awkwardness between us at all." Davison, also co-winner of the 2009 Bathurst 1000, was most upset about the fact that confusion and controversy over the result had taken the shine off the against- the-odds win by members of the tiny family-run Tekno team.

"It shouldn't be taken away from them, not that it will be," he said. "But the shine shouldn't be diminished. There shouldn't be this cloud hanging over it where all of a sudden, someone is saying it's not the correct outcome when it was.

"The best time was the hour after the race. Everything was about us winning in spectacular fashion and then it was all just overshadowed from about an hour afterwards."

Although Warburton's public opposition to the sport's leading team exercising its right to protest race officials' decisions raises wider concerns, there is evidence that the majority of rival team owners shared fans' disagreement with Triple Eight's heavy-handed approach.

There is a large body of opinion that Whincup's team, competing under the Red Bull Racing Australia banner, was guilty of "sour grapes" by trying to widen its appeal to expunge Whincup's penalty, which would make him the winner.

But the Supercars National Court Of Appeal – an independent three-man tribunal appointed by motor racing's national governing body, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) – rejected Triple Eight's petition to change the grounds of the appeal.

Forced to restrict its action to its immediate post-race notification of appeal against the severity of the penalty, Triple Eight can now only hope to achieve a downgraded penalty that would at best improve Whincup's and co-driver Paul Dumbrell's finishing position by three places, to eighth.

Many have questioned why Dane chose to pursue the appeal, which will be heard by the CAMS-administered tribunal on Tuesday night at the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne, when there is little to gain.

The adverse publicity for the team's major multi-million dollar sponsors, energy drink giant Red Bull and car-maker Holden, appears to make the $10,000 challenge an effective no-win situation.

Nominally, the watered-down appeal confirms Davison and Webb as underdog Bathurst 1000 winners, although officially the race results are still subject to the outcome of Triple Eight's action.

That could go either way as the Supercars National Court of Appeal – a panel made up of a trio of lawyers – can increase as well as reduce penalties.

Davison and Webb were presented with the winners' Peter Brock Trophy after finishing second on the track behind Whincup and Dumbrell, who were relegated to 11th when a 15-second penalty was added to their race time.

Whincup earned the punishment for being judged by officials to have caused the race-changing collision with Scott McLaughlin with 11 laps to go.