CONTROVERSY OVER PRO SLAMMER CRASH AT SYDNEY DRAGWAY CONTINUES
A bitter war of words has broken out between the governing body, IHRA Australia and prominent team owner Steve Sarkis in the aftermath of the crash involving their star driver Sam Fenech in round four of the 400 Thunder Championship at Sydney Dragway, January 5.
Fenech took the win over fellow Sydney racer Paul Mouhayet in the final of Pro Slammer then as he crossed the finish line his parachutes failed to deploy properly and became entangled in the wheelie bar. His Chevy Camaro then careered through the sand trap, penetrated the safety catch fence and mounted the tire wall before coming to rest. By the time safety crews reached Fenech, he was able to extricate himself from the car and walked away unscathed.
Fenech's first ever Slammer win was ‘withdrawn’ by the IHRA due to 'failure by the team to supply technical data'.
In a statement, IHRA claimed that: "Due to the team failing to fulfil a request to supply technical data, the decision by IHRA Australia has been made to withdraw race car no. 125 from the final results. The event results will stand with no winner declared."
As a result, Fenech received no championship points or prize money.
Team owner Sarkis has slammed the decision claiming that he and his legal representatives have made their car and race data readily available to IHRA officials who they claim have declined their offers.
"Our race data has and always will be available to every sanctioning body where we compete,” said Sarkis. “It is worth noting IHRA had possession of our car for five days after the race meeting and have been advised by myself or my legal representatives on three separate occasions in writing they have access to the car to review race data, however, IHRA have failed to avail themselves of each and every opportunity to review race data. The race data is still available to this day.”
Sarkis also said he welcomed an independent safety investigation into the crash.
“Neither the Board or Management of Sydney Dragway or IHRA Australia, have responded to any of the issues he and his legal team have raised regarding driver safety at Sydney Dragway. The current Independent Safety Investigation into our accident cannot get any one of the 40 questions from my legal team and I regarding the safety of race car drivers and the Sydney Dragway answered by either Sydney Dragway, their board members or IHRA.
“We look forward to the release of the Independent Safety Report of the accident and remain committed to working fearlessly toward making Sydney Dragway one of the safest tracks in the world. Safety will always be our first priority and should always come before everything else.
“We are prepared to assist all parties physically and financially to achieve the best possible safety outcomes. We will await the release of the Independent Safety Report before we make any further comment."
In a statement to racers Sydney Dragway has said that racing has resumed but not for vehicles quicker than 10 seconds or faster than 130 mph while a review into all aspects of the catch net system takes place.
The Fenech crash is not the first time since the venue opened in 2004 that the safety net at SD has been seriously damaged. In 2008 Top Fuel racer ‘Pommie’ Steve Read crashed through the catch fence, ending up embedded in the tire wall and was lucky to walk away with minor injuries.