CRP Racing boss Nick Short said he considered pulling his Pirelli World Challenge SprintX entry Saturday night in protest of the incident responsibility penalty his team received in Race 1 at Circuit of The Americas.
Daniel Morad and Ryan Dalziel went on to claim victory in the final SprintX race of the weekend, after electing to still race.
On Saturday, Morad was assessed a drive-through penalty by the race stewards, who deemed him to be responsible for the Lap 1 fracas that resulted in Patrick Long’s spin in Turn 1 after being hit by Alvaro Parente’s K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3.
According to Short, the stewards determined that Parente moved to avoid Morad, who was coming up the inside in his orange Mercedes-AMG GT3, which initiated the contact with Long.
Short had a lengthy discussion with series officials following the race during which he says he was told that Morad was at blame, even though he did not make contact with Parente.
“We were told we caused the accident even though we didn’t hit Alvaro,” Short told Sportscar365.
“We were told because the big orange car came down the inside, made the turn, that Alvaro moved to stop us from hitting him even though we hadn’t hit him.
“It didn’t look like we were going to hit him. We were down the side of him. Alvaro’s reaction to the orange car, they said, caused the accident, which I don’t understand.
“It’s not my job to control Alvaro Parente from running into [Long] who he is fighting in the championship. He’s a big boy, he’s a factory race car driver, he needs to be held accountable for his actions.”
Short said he left his meeting dissatisfied and considered withdrawing from Race 2, going as far as to pack up the car and much of the team’s equipment from the garage, although ultimately electing to stay to fulfill his commitments to team partners.
He cited disagreements over officiating, extending beyond instances in which his own team was involved, as his major grievance.
“I’m disappointed in the series and their decisions of what they see on the race track,” Short said.
“I sat down with them yesterday, and the easiest way to put it is that [Race 1 pole-sitter] Johnny O’Connell who led the field to the green flag is getting a three-grid spot penalty for jumping the start.
“How does the guy jump the start that’s leading the field to the flag? You wave him off, or you green flag him. As soon as you green flag him, you’ve okayed him. He’s supposed to accelerate first and get the advantage on the field.
“Those are the kind of decisions that are disappointing me with the series. And it’s everybody up and down here. It’s not just a Nick Short thing.
“When drivers congregate at the end of your garage at the end of the race and we’re all talking about the same thing, the series needs to sit up and take notice.”
PWC President and CEO Greg Gill said he supports the stewards’ decisions made on Saturday regarding the incident.
“We respect the rights of our paddock members to disagree with our Stewardship and management decisions,” Gill said in a statement provided to Sportscar365. “We work daily with the members of our paddock on their competition questions.
“We will back the decisions of our Stewards in this matter.”
While he said his team will complete the rest of the PWC season, Short said that he’s considering alternatives for next year.
“I’m pretty much one of the only ones that has commercial sponsors so I have contracts with people. I have to continue through,” Short said.
“I’m always looking at places like IMSA to see if I can get what I consider to be a fairer playing field. I’ve considered doing the Intercontinental [GT Challenge] championship.
“You’re always looking for a better place. [PWC] wouldn’t be a bad place if it was run like the Blancpain series is run. When I talk to guys about the Blancpain series, whether it’s Bentley or McLaren, they seem to be happy with most everything.
Short said he hoped a greater involvement from the SRO could help rectify the situation.
“[Stephane] Ratel and these guys need to be here Johnny on the spot,” he said. “I think they do an excellent job around the world, but I think they need to be here Johnny on the spot looking at the series deeper.
“[SRO Technical Director] Claude Surmont needs to be here or an appointed guy to understand the difference between endurance racing and sprint racing.
“I think they’ll get there. I think Claude always gets there, as I understand it. But it’s not there yet. But the customer needs answers, and not ‘because that’s the way we want to do it.’ People will walk away.”
Gill added: “Regarding our application of the SRO BoP, we are in regular communication with Stephane Ratel about relevant Series matters and with Claude Surmont regarding the SRO BoP.”