Down in Brazil, they are used to scandals. The government seems to be in a permanent state of one revelation after another and it seems that things have now spread into the world of motorsport with a right old mess going on with race stewards of Stock Car Brasil, the national touring car championship. This features such luminaries as Rubens Barrichello, Ricardo Zonta, Luciano Burti and Antonio Pizzonia. The stewards, who are appointed by the Confederação Brasileira de Automobilismo (CBA), the local national sporting authority, have been exposed in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper for having apparently manipulated the championship in recent years. Their conversations on WhatsApp have just been published by the newspaper.
The problem developed after the driver Caca Bueno, a Red Bull-sponsored driver, who is the son of the celebrated F1 commentator Galvão Bueno, was forced to do an extra lap of a race last year, while fighting for the lead, after the officials forgot to show the chequered flag. There were claims at the time that safety vehicles were coming on to the circuit while this was happening, because they also thought the race was over. Bizarrely, the CBA decided to ban Bueno for two races, rather than take action against the officials involved. This was greeted with considerable criticism.
One of the stewards, Paulo Ygor Dias wrote in WhatsApp group conversation: “Let’s disqualify him for something in the next race. I want to see him pissed off… . This sucker was talking sh@t for a long time. We have to screw him and Thiago Camilo. They are the most tiresome guys.”
Another former steward, Clovis Matsumoto, responded by saying: “Well, in my time Caca was runner-up three times because I was not in the mood to let him be the champion!”. Dias then responded, saying, that he remembered that era and said that “it’s not so long since we took some points from him and he wasn’t the champion”.
The two men said that the conversation was just a joke and that they cannot simply invent punishments because of the rules, but Bueno told the newspaper that it was what amounted to a confession and that he was not at all surprised by the news. The CBA has suspended the two men, pending an internal investigation.
The CBA is headed by Cleyton Pinteiro, who has been the president of the organisation since 2009. He has appointed a commission of three to investigate. This will consist of former F1 driver and three-time stock car champion Chico Serra, Robson Duarte, the president of the Federação de Automobilismo do Estado do Espírito Santo, a regional club, and a representative from the Brazilian national racing driver’s club, the Associação Brasileira de Pilotos de Automobilismo (ABPA).
It is fair to say that the CBA does not enjoy a very good reputation in Brazil, with some of the remarks I have seen on the Internet raising an eyebrow at the accusations that have been published.
It seems that the WhatsApp group involved a number of other stewards and the fact that the newspaper got access to the messages, suggests that someone inside the organisation gave them the details…