The G-Drive Racing car of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Photo: Ker Robertson (Getty Images)
The 24 Hours of Le Mans might not have had the riveting action like we expected it to thanks to some lame new rules, but at least one battle for the win did get interesting after the race ended. Officials disqualified the winning team in Le Mans‘ second-tier class, over an illegal device to speed up pit stops.
In the Le Mans Prototype 2 class, G-Drive Racing’s No. 26 car driven by Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Andrea Pizzitola won by an entire two laps over second place on a nearly 14km race track, which means the car won by… a lot. (Or about 27km, for you “bloggers can’t do maths” commenters.)
But Le Mans announced Monday that maybe the No. 26 car’s huge win wasn’t all due to the new rules essentially outlawing pit-stop strategy plays. Instead, an illegal strategy could’ve helped — the No. 26 and the No. 28 TDS Racing car that originally finished fourth in LMP2 got dinged for “non-compliance of a part in the fuel restrictor,” according to a Le Mans announcement.
The Le Mans announcement didn’t say much about the penalty, other than pointing to a part of the rulebook and saying the “competitor intends to appeal the decision.” The announcement didn’t specify which competitor it was talking about, but Motorsport.com reports that G-Drive confirmed it wants to appeal.
Motorsport.com had more on the reason for the penalty itself, which officials basically said was for getting a big, illegal advantage on pit stops:
A stewards’ bulletin issued on Monday evening read: “The technical delegates issued a report to the Stewards that “an additional machined part not featuring in the drawing is inserted into the flow restrictor, changing the wetted restrictor surface described by the regulatory drawing.
“The Technical Delegates provided the Stewards with photos of the restrictor, the referenced part and its assembly to the “dead man valve”.
“The contested part is a machined part that extends from the dead man valve and inserts inside the cone of the Flow Restrictor.
“The Technical Delegates stated to the Stewards that they started their investigation of the competitor’s refuelling system following the race when they noted the competitor was able to refuel significantly faster than any of their competitors.”
If the penalties hold up, the original second-place car that finished two laps behind the No. 26, the No. 36 car of Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet, will get the win. It will also put the original fifth-place car that finished four laps behind the original winner, United Autosports’ No. 32 with Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer, will get third place.