Ben Keating’s 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning No. 85 Ford GT has been excluded from the final results.
An initial ruling by the ACO, the event’s organizers, assessed a time penalty that moved the GTE-Am victors from first to second in class. Team Project 1’s No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR was elevated from second to first.
The official reasoning behind the 55.2s penalty, which moved the No. 85 Riley Motorsports entry behind the No. 56 (after winning on Sunday by 44.9s) involved violations of the minimum refueling time set for the Pro-Am class.
With a minimum refueling time of 45 seconds established in the rules for all GTE-Am entries, scrutineers from the ACO have judged the No. 85 Ford to have completed its refueling in 44.4s per stop. Using the penalty math supplied in the ruling, the 0.6s infraction per stop, multiplied by the 23 refueling stops made by the car during the race, multiplied by four, has arrived at 55.2s.
Rather than having a 44.9s win, the No. 85 appeared to be on its way to being entered into the record as losing to the No. 56 Porsche by 10.3s.
As noted in an earlier story on the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT’s disqualification for excessive fuel capacity, RACER confirmed the No.85’s fuel cell was measured to have been slightly over capacity as well. No mention of this was made in the minimum refueling violation documentation, but a second ruling, signed nearly 14 hours later, called for the exclusion of the No.85 Ford after citing its fuel tank, which was restricted to carrying a maximum of 96 liters, was measured at 96.1 liters.
According to the rules for the event, the 55.2s time penalty ruling cannot be appealed, but the exclusion is open to appeal. However, in a hand-written note on the exclusion document, the team noted it would not pursue this avenue, making the decision final.
The No.85’s exclusion not only cements the win for the No.56 Porsche driven by Patrick Lindsay, Jorg Bergmeister, and Egidio Perfetti, but also moves the third-place JMW Ferrari 488 GTE driven by Jeff Segal, Wei Lu, and Rodrigo Baptista to second, and promotes the fourth-place WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GTE of Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander, and Robert Smith to third.
Said MacNeil upon hearing the news: “Not the way you want to get up on the podium. But our WeatherTech Ferrari ran a flawless race and the drivers didn’t put a wheel off over the 24 hours. The strategy and pit stops were great by the Scuderia Corsa team as well.
“We started planning our 2020 Le Mans this morning,” he added, “with the goal of getting on the top step of the podium next year.”