V8 Supercars has officially made the Sydney Motorsport Park pre-season test compulsory for all primary drivers.
In its final draft of the 2015 operations manual, V8 Supercars has formally amended its regulations around the test day and the definition of a primary driver to mandate attendance.
The scheduling of the test has already sparked controversy due to its clash with the Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race in which a number of V8 Supercars drivers have competed.
Previously, the test had been compulsory for teams only, but the new draft of the 2015 operations manual lists the event as being compulsory for primary drivers as well, preventing a number of drivers from participating in the 12 hour encounter.
“All Teams entered in the VCS must participate, and must ensure that their Primary Drivers participate, for the duration of all V8 Supercars compulsory Test days as nominated by V8 Supercars,” reads the revised rule D1.12.1.
The revision follows a period of debate between V8 Supercars and Nissan Motorsport who want Rick Kelly to have permission to race at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Various reports have suggested that competing in the Bathurst 12 Hour will result in Kelly being banned from competing at the V8 Supercars season opener at Adelaide.
Another adjustment to the rules prevents the teams of listing a dummy primary driver for the test day as any driver changes between the pre-season test and the season opener must now be approved by V8 Supercars.
The rule originally read: “Primary Driver means the Driver who is entered to drive a Car at the first Sprint Event of a Season with the intention of competing for the entire Season.”
The amended rule now reads: “Primary Driver means the Driver that a Team nominates in its Series Registration Form as the Driver of its Car at all Meetings and compulsory Test days and at any Season launch events.
“Once nominated in its Series Registration Form, a Team may only change the Primary Driver or substitute a new or replacement Driver as its Primary Driver with the prior written consent of V8 Supercars.”
While Nissan Motorsport has not commented on the rule change as yet, its global motorsport manager Darren Cox made his opinions clear in a recent interview with Radio Le Mans.
Part of Cox’ frustration with the issues was due to the fact that without the involvement of V8 Supercars drivers the team are unable to field a second car in the Bathurst 12 Hour.
“It’s another case of the politics getting in the way of sport,” said Cox.
“I think there’s only one loser and that will be the sport unfortunately.
“If V8s think they’re the only game in town, then things are changing down there and I think the Bathurst 12 Hour will only grow and grow.
“I think V8s taking them on is the wrong thing to do. I think there’s room enough for both championships.
“This one will rumble on I think,” he added.
“We made our point clear in the strongest possible terms, both locally and globally and it’s not being resolved so for me it’s a black mark on the championship.”
Next year’s pre-season test has been branded as a Super Test and for the first time will take place over two days on February 7-8.
Another first for the pre-season test is the inclusion of a competitive element which sees drivers complete a two lap run against the clock.
All teams must also partake in the televised launch of their 2015 liveries at the test, however they may debut them earlier if they wish.