Driver tweets lead to confusion for V8 fans
From the editor.....
The withdrawal this week of two Kiwi V8 Supercar drivers from competing in NZ this spring may have initially left fans mystified and certainly disappointed. Little explanation was given and it seemed that V8 Supercars had banned their drivers from crossing the Tasman. It appeared political and raised unanswered questions giving dedicated V8 fans a week of bewilderment and confusion.
Just over a week ago Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen both announced through social media, their withdrawal from driving in the V8 SuperTourers (V8ST) endurance series in NZ this spring. They gave no reason.
Speedcafe.com added fuel to the fire and approached V8 Supercars for an explanation.
“If a driver commits to a full-time, professional career with a team in the category, V8 Supercars would prefer that it is their complete focus, on and off the track,” read the statement.
But this seems to contradict what the Australians are doing at home with the signing of IndyCar drivers for their upcoming Gold Coast 600. Include in this the signing of Kiwi drivers by V8 Supercar teams for their endurance series.
Next, adding to the confusion was the announcement from Andy Booth confirming that V8 Supercar driver Tony D’Alberto would join the Woodstock Racing team for all three V8ST endurance rounds as well as the confirmation from Greg Murphy of his involvement. Some drivers were able to cross the Tasman while others were not!
Eric Thomson from the NZ Herald decided to dig deeper and eventually found a more practical explanation from V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane but also a confusing statement from van Gisbergen’s team.
"I have absolutely no problem with the drivers racing in New Zealand I would just prefer it not to be in our season around the critical time of the season. I think the drivers should be concentrating on the people who pay them and the teams' sponsors in the Australian series," said Cochrane.
"What do you then tell your sponsor who's put two or three million dollars into your car, 'Sorry, but the driver went to New Zealand, got injured and now I'm going to find a fill-in driver for you' - really?" said Cochrane. Cochrane makes a fair point.
But what was confusing and contradictory was a statement from Stone Brothers Racing.
"Shane (van Gisbergen) was never confirmed as a driver in the SuperTourers," the team said. "Shane drives fulltime for us and when we looked at the calendar and saw the test days, the sponsor ride days and the race dates it simply didn't fit and there wasn't enough time for him to go to that particular event (V8 SuperTourers).
If van Gisbergen was never confirmed as a driver, then why did he post the following? “Hi Guys, Just to let you know that I'm not going to be racing in the V8 enduro's in NZ this year.”
Reading the threads generated on Facebook there is a raft of comments from fans expressing disappointment as well as support. One includes a comment from van Gisbergen which just says “Politics”
An excuse for test days and sponsor ride days from the team is questionable. Teams are allowed only four test days per season (Rule D1.3.1). One of these is a compulsory and was held earlier in February this year. So have Stone Brothers arranged the other three days around the V8ST endurance dates? Or is it just politics?
One has to consider the value of announcements through social media and the confusion and contradiction that can be generated? While fans will remain loyal it has been confusing and led to disappointment. This could have been handled better.
What may be more alarming for fans are the contradictions by both V8 Supercars and Stone Brothers Racing and it only raises more questions.
Delivery is everything and drivers, teams and officials need to get this right for their fans. Less is more, and further thought is required when using social media for unofficial announcements.