Following an eventful first round at Brands Hatch, the British GT Championship responded by appointing a driving standards officer for Rockingham – experienced Dutch single-seater and sportscar racer Michael Vergers.
As a driver, the 46 year-old won the 1990 British Formula Ford championship, 2006 Le Mans Series LMP2 championship and set the production car lap record at the Nürburgring, and will use his experience in the event of an on-track incident to help the stewards and Race Director Bernard Cottrell reach a more considered verdict.
Vergers was appointed by BRSCC assistant Clerk of the Course Peter Daly, who served as his spotter when the Dutchman raced in the Rockingham-based ASCAR championship in the early 2000s. He is confirmed only for the Rockingham weekend so far, but both Vergers and British GT championship manager Benjamin Franassovici confirmed to Racing.GT that the door is open for him to continue for the rest of the year should all parties agree.
“My function is only to do with driving standards, i.e. accidents or incidents,” said Vergers, who joked that he had to make a CV especially to give to Franassovici. “We had a couple of drivers up for exceeding track limits in qualifying, but at that point I really that point I really don’t have any say, I’ll have more of an input if there is an incident on track between two cars which causes an accident.
“What happens upstairs is we get an incident report, we assess the incident through the on-board video and any footage we have and will then make a decision, at which point the driver will be called to plead innocence or present their side of the story. I’ve been up there many, many times coming up with all sorts of excuses, but at the same time we’re trying to be as fair as possible because ultimately everyone pays the same money to go racing.”
Vergers’ remit will not extend to mentoring some of the championship’s younger drivers, but will be strictly a decision-making role.
“Of course you can see many, many opportunities to give people advice, or drive differently or do different things, but then we would be here for a month, so I’ve been told that we’re purely assessing incidents. I’m sure if I’m going to be here for the full season there will be opportunities where we send out bulletins or in driver briefings come up with some tips, especially with the younger drivers, but it’s not a coaching role as such.”
Franassovici added that the move was a positive one for the championship after a difficult Brands Hatch weekend marred by controversy over the use of Code 80, which has since been temporarily suspended until SRO can properly regulate speeds.
“We have decided to bring in an external driving standards officer to cover everything that needs to be covered and make sure that driving standards are kept to a good level,” he said. “Michael has got all the qualifications to do a good job – he’ll give us his modern experience, talk to drivers when we feel that someone is not behaving properly and give support to race control. We introduced him in the drivers briefing and everyone welcomed it. Hopefully we won’t need his services!”