Kelly surprised by reckless driving charge

Rick Kelly says he’s surprised to have been slapped with a drive-through penalty for reckless driving for his clash with James Courtney and Will Davison at The Bend.

The Nissan driver was caught on the inside of a three-wide situation at Turn 6 on the opening lap of today’s 120-kilometre race. 

Light contact between him and Courtney, who was in the middle, led to Davison being spun on the outside of the corner. 

That resulted in significant damage for Simona de Silvestro and Todd Hazelwood, who both arrived on the scene unaware that Davison was facing the wrong way.

Stewards made a swift, controversial call to slap Kelly with a drive-through, based on a ‘reckless driving’ charge for not yielding for Courtney.

However Kelly disagrees that any penalty was warranted, let alone one that severe.

“Me being inside the car, I think the penalty is pretty harsh,” he said. 

“In these situations I’m normally the guy to put my hand up and say I stuffed up and apologise for it, even to the point in Darwin when I did that and later discovered it wasn’t entirely my fault.

“But in this one I’m very surprised by the outcome. 

“The only thing I could say about the disagreement in [the officials] thinking I should have got it and me thinking I shouldn’t, at the point of contact, as per the rulebook that was given, it says you’ve got to be in the vicinity of the b-pillar – and I feel, from the in-car camera and where I was sitting, I was.

“They think I was short of the B-pillar, which is why it was handed out.

“The rulebook also says if there’s a little bit of contact and everyone drives off it’s fine, if someone spins it’s 15 [seconds] and if there’s significant damage to other cars then it’s a drive-through.

“So the penalty in this case has been based off the outcome, not so much the contact that I’ve made.

“I do leave a little bit confused and disappointed with the outcome because I was underneath him, had a little bit of a rub and got on with it – and I copped a drive-through.

“Certainly the feeling when I heard the call that I’m coming through the pits, I couldn’t work out why, because it wasn’t like I punted someone and driven off.”

Kelly met with driving standards advisor Craig Baird after the race to discuss the issue.

“I’ve gone up there and had a really good chat to Bairdo and the guys upstairs and they are pretty adamant that, with the rulebook they’ve got in front of them, they made the right decision,” he said.

“I understand their point of view. We don’t agree on the car positioning and there’s not an exact camera that shows a spot-on thing, there’s all different angles with nothing exactly side-on.  

“At the end of the day I’m human and so are they, so people are going to make decisions that probably aren’t ideal from the drivers’ point of view.

“I think they’ve done a good, consistent job all year, but I don’t feel like the penalty fits the crime in this case.

“There’s not much I can do, but it’s interesting that guys from [Davison’s] team came down and said they thought it was a racing incident and were surprised I got a drive-through.

“You can’t make decisions based on what other people think, they’ve got to look at the rulebook and make decisions based off that.

“But from my point of view, you can’t walk away from today being anything other than disappointed.”

Kelly finished today’s race 23rd and last of those that were classified.

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