Nutton should have known rules: Targa West

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Rally driver Drew Nutton of Carramar was in a winning position after the Malaga stage but was unable to finish the 2016 Targa West after being disqualified. Picture: Tim Allott.

TARGA West rally driver Drew Nutton of Carramar was out of the 2016 event after the Malaga stage when officials ruled his con rods and rear suspension did not comply with regulations.

The Mitsubish Lancer Evo 6 driver said in the Malaga stage he was only three seconds behind Peter Major the eventual Targa West winner.

“Over a six minute stage, three seconds behind is excellent,’’ he said.

“At the end of the event I was asked to go to post race scrutineering.  “This was because I was leading the Targa Cup in my class.’’

Nutton said while his car complied with last year’s rules he had been unaware the rules had changed for 2016 and this meant the con rods in his engine were outside the regulations.

Targa West event director Ross Tapper said Nutton was disqualified due to his car having non-genuine con rods and a non-compliant rear suspension.

Tapper said the fitting of non-standard con rods was not allowed under last year’s regulations either but this year was the first year it had been made known to competitors that con rods would be checked at post-event scrutiny.

He said on entering the event, competitors were supplied with the supplementary regulations which outlines the technical regulations their car needed to comply with for them to be an eligible competitor.

“It is the competitor’s responsibility to familiarise themselves with the regulations and ensure they comply,’’ he said.

Nutton said the aftermarket con rods were stronger than standard rods and allowed a more reliable engine.

“This allows a bit more power,’’ he said.

“It is also a safer as the engine is less likely to fail and potentially cause oil to go on the roads and either stop or cancel the stages, which is what happened to one of the Whiteman Park stages when a Commodore dropped oil all over the road.’’

He thought oil on the road may have caused Mark Greenham to crash during the Targa Bunbury event in which Greenham was seriously injured.

“So in my opinion, we should be allowed the more reliable engines – but it’s not up to me.

Tapper said there was no oil on the road when Mark Greenham had his accident.

“His off was due to over-driving into a tricky corner,’’ he said.

“In regards to the oil on the road during the Whiteman Park stage, this was due to the team driving over a kerb and puncturing a hole in their sump – it was not due to con rod failure.

“Aftermarket con rods are usually installed to allow for a turbo-charged engine to take more boost, which allows it to be tuned for a higher horsepower.

“The standard con roads would fail under the same level of boost – so it could be argued that if the standard rods were kept, and the standard levels of boost applied, the aftermarket rods are no more reliable than the standard ones.’’

Nutton said he was unsure in which direction to head now with the car.

“I want to keep doing Targa events, but with a non-compliant engine, I’ll be ineligible for placing, which kind of defeats the purpose of being in a race,’’ he said.

Tapper said all cars underwent a pre-event safety scrutiny.

“Obvious technical infringements are often pointed out to competitors at this time as well, giving them the opportunity to rectify any minor technical ineligibility prior to competition.

“During the event the scrutineering team also inspect cars.

“For example, all cars are weighed to ensure they meet the minimum weight guidelines.

“Cars are selected for post event scrutiny at which a more thorough technical inspection occurs.

“At post event scrutiny a number of cars were checked to ensure their con rods were standard, along with a number of other checks including suspension components and turbo charger legality.

“This year we also had the support of some knowledgeable mechanics who were able to provide guidance to the scrutineers.’’