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Dixon penalised for Baltimore comments

7 September 2013

The IZOD IndyCar Series announced on Friday that it was fining Scott Dixon $30,000 and placing him under probation for the rest of 2013 because of criticisms he levelled at race control after the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sunday.

The IndyCar management deemed Dixon in violation of rules 9.3.1.8 and 9.3.7 of the series rulebook when he made disparaging remarks toward race officials and other competitors.

The comments that Dixon made covered a number of incidents during the 75-lap race in downtown Baltimore on Sunday. Dixon's car was spun by contact with Graham Rahal in the #15 at a restart on lap 48 that resulted in a blockage of the track and dropped Dixon himself to fifth place.

At the next restart, a three-wide battle saw Dixon driven into the wall by the #12 Penske car of Will Power which pulled abruptly to the right when Dixon tried to make a pass on the inside line. The incident resulted in significant damage to the car, although Dixon later revealed that this had consisted of a bent toe rod and an upper A-arm which would have taken the team no more than three or four minutes to repair on pit road and get him back out on the track.

However, IndyCar officials working to clear the front straightaway refused the Ganassi team's request to bring the #9 back to the pit stall and as a result Dixon ended up retiring from the race and classified in 19th position. With Dixon in second place in the championship standings behind Helio Castroneves with just three races remaining in the 2013 season, it's an outcome that could effectively decide the title.

Together with further incidents that also saw a lack of a penalty for Oriol Servia passing Dixon under yellow and Will Power running over an air hose during a pit stop, it was all too much for the usually mild-mannered Kiwi.

“The #15 should have received a penalty [for spinning us] and the #4 car passed us on a yellow," fumed Dixon on Sunday. "The #12 car ran over a hose in a pit stop and gets no penalty. There were just so many [wrong] calls ... There's just no consistency.

"That restart near the end was complete bosh," he continued. "On the restart I had an overtake advantage on the #12 car. It must have been in fourth gear, so they can't complain about wheel spin. Then I got beside him [Power] and he ran me straight into the wall. Then, they wouldn't bring the car back.

"Beaux needs to be fired," Dixon summarised, referring to IndyCar's president of competition and the race director at Baltimore, Beaux Barfield. "He was a complete idiot today."

In subsequent post-race interviews, Dixon kept up the attack and pointed out that the IndyCar rulebook actually mandates the return of the car to the team's pit stall when there's a suitably lengthy full course caution, as was the case in Baltimore.

"To not have it there to repair is beyond me," Dixon said, recalling a similar situation in a previous season where he had been left stranded in a run-off for a whole race. "It's quite obvious that Beaux can't do his job. He's not capable of it and needs to go."

Dixon had cooled off by Monday and admitted that "I should have said [it] differently after the emotions cleared. I could have chosen better words and done a better job of saying what I felt." But as far as IndyCar was concerned, it was too little, too late - Sunday's comments were more than enough to see Dixon fall foul of the series' code of conduct.

Rule 9.3.1.8 relates to the use of improper, profane or disparaging language or gestures in reference to officials, members or action or situations connected with the IZOD IndyCar Series, while rule 9.3.7 states that any competitor who uses improper, profane or disparaging language or gestures and references a specific official by his/her name may be fined a minimum of $25,000 and may be subject to additional penalties based upon the particular circumstances.

IndyCar said that because of the public display of these actions, Dixon will be able to work off the fine by making a public appearances on behalf of IndyCar, which is similar to the situation Will Power found himself after directing twin obscene gestures at race control at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2011.

Dixon has the right of appeal over the penalty.

Vautier on probation

Also on probation until the end of the season for events that took place in Baltimore is Tristan Vautier. The Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports driver was involved in a collision with Graham Rahal during the Saturday qualifying session after Rahal had spun at a chicane.

Vautier was cited for not showing sufficient care in observing the local waved yellows already out in that section of the track for Rahal's spin.

The Frenchman was deemed to have violated sections 9.3.1.1 and 7.2.2.1.b of the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook, with the first of these relating to "Engaging in reckless, careless, and/or overly aggressive actions or unsportsmanlike behaviour toward other members."

The second section relates to procedures under local waved yellows and lays out that this "means reduce speed, passing not permitted, be prepared to change direction or stop, a hazard wholly or partially blocking the track."

Vautier's probation will end after the IndyCar season finale at Fontana next month, with IndyCar management warning that that reserve the right to impose other penalties at its discretion if improvements in driving standards are not met during the probation period.


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