Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Team Orders

SIMON: I’m not a fan of team orders. For those that don’t know, team orders is where a team will ask one of their drivers give away to their teammate to enable the other driver win or score points.

I don’t like team orders because it’s not right. Sport is about the best competitor winning. I get having teammates work together to benefit the team by slipstreaming during qualifying to help get a better time or not taking each other out, but actively telling one driver to sacrifice their position in a race for the betterment of their teammate is wrong. It cheapens the results, the sport and the spectator. I don’t care if a teammate doing better than the other will ruin the other teammate’s championship position. That’s racing.

And even if you benefit from team orders, it’s no fun because everyone knows your win is handed to you, so it’s a hollow victory. Who wants a championship title that comes with an asterisk next to it.

Maybe I’m a little too idealistic, what do you say, Tam-Tam.

TAMMY: Basically, I agree with you ... but there's an exception. For a single race win, it shouldn't happen. For the first 90% of the season, it shouldn't happen. But I find it hard to be so dogmatic when it comes to ensuring a season championship for a team who's fought to reach that step for years.

That happened with Dyson Racing (running Mazda engines in their LMP1s) in the second-to-last round of the ALMS at (Mazda Raceway) Laguna Seca. A late-race tire puncture put the championship-leading 16 car in third place behind its sister car the 20. A second place finish would clinch the season championship. So the team pulled the 20 into the pits to put the 16 in second. Even Chris Dyson (team founder Rob Dyson's son and one of the drivers of the 16) wasn't very happy about it in the moment. But it made sense. Dyson has been a stalwart participant in the ALMS for years, and they've been working hard to win a championship.

So I guess I'm saying team orders shouldn't be the norm, but I understand them in extraordinary circumstances. And I have to disagree with you, Simon, I don't think there are any asterisks next to those wins or championships. (Certainly the Dysons had gotten over any doubts by the last race and championship banquet.) When it comes to a season-long struggle, I think the manipulation of a results placing by one spot in a single race doesn't (and shouldn't) negate the quality of consistent results all season that got them in position to take the season title.

But maybe I'm too pragmatic? What do the rest of you say? Are you idealists like Simon or pragmatists like me?

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