Patron team and IMSA trade barbs over protest
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing is appreciative to IMSA for the efforts applied to the post-event examination of the penalty received by the team during the recent Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series event at Long Beach.
Our team's efforts to clarify the penalty were in no way meant to tarnish the victory by our sister Acura team at de Ferran Motorsport. We wish to congratulate them on their win and look forward to continuing our battle for the LMP1 championship at Salt Lake City.
In reply to the IMSA statement, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing would like to point out:
· The team was alleged to have violated Art. 18.104.22.168 of the Standing Supplementary Regulations of the American Le Mans Series - stating Fire bottle person must wear "a full coverage helmet with face shield that is positioned down".
· Our fire bottle crew member was equipped with a motocross-style helmet with chin guard, fire retardant balaclava (head sock) and face shield goggles.
· Our fire bottle crew member had his goggles (face shield) in place during the Long Beach pit stop.
· The wording of Art 22.214.171.124. differs from that which is applied to refuellers from Art. 17.6.2 (b) "helmet with a closed visor" in regards the equipment required by "fuel attendants".
· Our refueler is equipped with a full-face helmet and fire retardant balaclava at every round of the American Le Mans Series including Long Beach.
· Our telemetry indicates our car was held in excess of the 20 second penalty applied.
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing would like to thank the IMSA team for their efforts in investigating this matter and look forward to receiving information regarding any change in equipment tech inspection procedures and precise clarification regarding the difference between Art 126.96.36.199 and Art. 17.6.2 (b) in the near future.
IMSA's Statement regarding the matter is outlined in full below:
At the conclusion of the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach on April 18, the entrant of the No. 9 Patr¢n Highcroft Racing LMP1 car filed a protest following the penalty assessed by the Race Director for a pit infraction during the competition. The Stewards found that in accordance with the rules, the issue is not protestable and communicated this to the team.
The Race Director, Stewards and IMSA Management did, however, conduct a thorough investigation into the issues brought forth by the entrant. It was determined that the alleged infraction, as reported to Race Control by the IMSA Pit Marshal, did occur and the penalty assessed by the Race Director was correct in-so-far as it followed the "Standard Penalties" as listed in the IMSA Code. The comment to the Patr¢n Highcroft entrant during the race by the Pit Lane Supervisor that the "penalty was not a good call" was not correct in that the Pit Lane Supervisor was not aware of the entire situation before his opinion was offered.
Matters that are not subject to protest are also not subject to appeal and subsequently the team has elected not to file an appeal. Therefore, from a rules standpoint, the matter is considered closed. However, an ongoing investigation of the circumstances is being completed by IMSA.
In summary form:
The penalty stemmed from the use of a motocross-style helmet, as opposed to a "full coverage helmet with face shield that is positioned down" by the over-the-wall fire-bottle-attendant of the No. 9 car during the pit stop. This is a violation of Art. 188.8.131.52 of the Standing Supplementary Regulations of the American Le Mans Series. From this standpoint the call of the pit official was correct, and the rules (Attachment 1) call for a standard penalty of a 20-second hold, which was correctly applied by the Race Director.
IMSA inspects certain pit crew fire resistant clothing as part of its pre-race inspection process. In 2008 the rule did not require a helmet with visor for fire-bottle-attendants, only balaclava and goggles. For 2009 the rule was changed. At Sebring the No. 9 team wore the 2008 configuration, as did many teams. At St. Petersburg, the team added a helmet for the fire-bottle-attendant, but without a visor.
At Long Beach, IMSA's technical staff discovered that they had not been correctly inspecting the teams' equipment. However, rather than re-inspecting every team's equipment, only the teams that didn't have a helmet indicated on the Long Beach inspection sheet had their equipment re-inspected and adjustments made. While the No. 9 team had presented their helmet during pre-race technical inspection, there was no notation about the visor, and consequently the team was not given the opportunity to make a change before the race.
Therefore, while the team violated the rule and suffered the consequences, had IMSA's inspection procedures not broken down, the violation would probably not have occurred in the first place.
An extensive investigation and report has occurred and is being shared with the team. The report contains several recommendations which IMSA intends to follow up on to prevent re-occurrence of this incident.