Newcastle 500: Triple Eight’s Dry Ice Controversy at Supercar Season Opener
Written by Isabel Brito, Edited by Sameena Khan
Two days ago, the Supercar season opener, Newcastle 500, was held; however, it wasn't anything short of controversial. Shane van Gisbergen, the current champion, struggled in his new Camaro due to some changes he had to accept.
Starting the race in sixth place and the team providing an early stop as a strategy, Van Gisbergen won the race for the third time. As it turns out, the driver is the first to win a championship for Chevrolet in 41 years. However, despite Shane's success in the sport in the last few years, a complaint was issued on Saturday after the race by rival teams Tickford Racing and Walkinshaw Andretti United, which also got positions on the podium.
It was both teams' concerns that Van Gisbergen's team, Triple Eight, used dry ice on Saturday to make the car faster. Said attempt worked as race authorities claimed the team breached cooling system rules in both vehicles. The regulations on supercar cooling systems state that "cooling systems need to be mounted within the cockpit utilizing the mounting points designated in the GSD for the passenger seat" (Source: Fox Sports).
Triple Eight also didn't make it a concern to hide what they were doing, as it is seen in photos that the dry ice bucket stands beside the car during the stop. Not only that, but they also made a point of it on team radios. It was assumed that the dry ice was meant to help the driver with pedal box heat since he had made it very clear that it was bothering his feet. However, the situation remained under investigation until Sunday.
The scandalous controversy finally ended on Sunday morning when it was announced that Van Gisbergen was stripped of his third consecutive win in Newcastle. Despite the situation, the case is still being investigated as Red Bull did not deny the use of dry ice, but they did appeal on the same morning after the initial announcement. Their appeal mentioned permission to use cooling methods as a safety measure.
The Red Bull team publicly stated that "Triple Eight is disappointed in the decision handed down by Motorsport Australia resulting in the disqualification of both Red Bull Ampol Racing cars from Race 1 of the Newcastle 500, and we have lodged notices of our intention to appeal for both cars," (Source: Fox Sports).
"The team sought permission from the Supercars head of motorsport before Race 1 of the Supercars championship, which was granted, and we acted upon this permission. This was not a performance enhancement method but a driver safety tool. Our team ethos is to race hard and fair every time we hit the track, and our full focus is on today's race in Newcastle." (Source: Fox Sports).
Albeit all the accusations of wrongful use of the dry ice and breach of the rule book, Cam Waters from Tickford Racing has taken Shane van Gisbergen's place on the podium. As for what happens next with the appeal, it's yet to be discussed, and at this time, a decision has not been made.