IMSA STATEMENT ON PROTEST FILED BY PATRÓN HIGHCROFT RACING
By Source: IMSA
Apr 30, 2009 - 4:27:50 PM
At the conclusion of the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach on April 18, the entrant of the No. 9 Patrón 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 Patrón 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.
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