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Reinke Calls for Minimum Refueling Times in Wake of Land BoP Penalty

Audi’s Chris Reinke calls for minimum refueling time for IMSA in wake of Land BoP penalty…

Photo: Audi

Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke has called for the introduction of minimum refueling times in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in the wake of Montaplast by Land Motorsport’s penalty in last month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The German squad’s Audi R8 LMS, which had built up a one-plus lap lead in GT Daytona at the time, was hit with a five-minute stop-and-hold penalty for consistently having quicker refueling times than the competition.

The unprecedented penalty, which IMSA stated was a breach of Balance of Performance, took the Audi out of contention, despite both the car and its refueling rig complying with the technical regulations and the BoP, both pre and post-race.

While questions still surround the penalty, Reinke believes the best solution moving forward would be implement a minimum refueling time across the board.

“If they say there is a target time they try to achieve with a restrictor, why don’t they make the target time mandatory?” he told Sportscar365.

“The teams don’t have to develop, they don’t have to give out penalties.

“With a tolerance margin, or whatever, we would stay out of a lot of things. Just give us a clear time, and if it refuels quicker, just stay static in the pits and wait.”

A minimum pitstop time already exists in some championships, including the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, which introduced a minimum time in 2016 after being unable to successfully control the variances of refueling fuel flows.

IMSA currently controls refueling times with refueling restrictors, which are monitored and adjusted through BoP adjustments. 

Reinke, however, said costs would decrease for teams if a minimum time was instead imposed.

“It solves the issue,” he said. “It’s also about the running costs of the cars. If you have those restrictions, you restrict development and therefore you restrict costs further down.

“That’s also good for our business. When costs are restricted, more people will join.”

While declining to go into detail on Land’s penalty at Daytona, Reinke admitted he was disappointed how the situation was handled, believing that a press statement issued by IMSA during the race was misleading.

The statement did not confirm the fact that Land’s refueling restrictor was fully in compliance and suggested the team could have been outside of the rules.

“It was disappointing the measure of penalty and it was disappointing how the situation was handled after, for example, with that [IMSA] press release that went out,” Reinke said.

“We would have appreciated if it would have been handled in a different manner.

“It had a direct influence on a race result of one of our customers who invested a lot of money to go to the States racing.

“It hurts us, but we’re not questioning our relationship to IMSA.

“I think it might be the other way around because there is a long-term good relationship and we can hopefully overcome it in a good professional manner.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Nicholas A Marshall

    February 5, 2018 at 9:31 am

    If you aren’t cheating, then you aren’t trying hard enough.

    • Haskellb

      February 5, 2018 at 9:41 am

      If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying. If you get caught you ain’t trying hard enough.

  2. Sol Shine

    February 5, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Well that makes perfect sense. So for sure Nascar, er, Imsa, won’t do it. They like to have the latitude to make stuff happen the way they want it to. It’s a show kiddies, just a show.

  3. Keith

    February 5, 2018 at 9:56 am

    How were they cheating? If the car and the rig passed tech both pre and post race I do not see how IMSA can do this. But again the brain trust is shaky at best there. It sounds like Audi is pretty pissed and will pull out. They do not need IMSA, IMSA needs them.

    • JD

      February 5, 2018 at 10:26 am

      The idea is that they were not cheating, but for whatever reason their fuel rig was fueling their car faster than it should have and thus still illegal since it’s flow rate that’s specified per the BoP not a particular configuration.

      • Jareth Belanger

        February 5, 2018 at 11:55 am

        There is no rules saying they have to meet the goal of IMSA. That “bop rule” 2.7 is a catchall so IMSA can do whatever the fuck it wants and not renege.

        Its manipulative bullshit.

    • Andy Flinn

      February 5, 2018 at 12:31 pm

      Funny, Keith, I remember Land Audi complaining about losing the GTD win last year to Alegra due to a delay in the pits.

      Did IMSA need Audi last year when Magnus stormed off to the PWC after the owner violated the rules at the Petit for minimum drive time?

      Still, somehow IMSA managed to survive last year.

      • Keith

        February 5, 2018 at 12:51 pm

        Audi will race with or with out IMSA so what is your point? That was one team. If a Manufacture leaves that’s a different story. So again what is your point? The team pat both pre and post race tech. You cannot change the fuel restrictor in during the race. You can not change a fuel cell during the race? Did not find any kind of pressurizing system on the rig so tell me what happened?

        • Andrew

          February 5, 2018 at 1:02 pm

          They, as a team, already said why, and VERY clearly. They have made a different fuel volume restriction plan than the one the other Audis use. They felt, and had been demonstrated they were correct, they could build a better mousetrap. They changed the way the fuel flows across the volume restrictors inside the tank which allows the fuel to flow across the tank faster, thus shorter stops. Nothing in the rules specifies all teams must use the same method, shape, etc to meet the volume number and they made their system work for them

      • Tim

        February 5, 2018 at 1:09 pm

        Andy, wouldn’t you complain too if you come in from the LEAD and leave the pits 5th because IMSA’s ‘make the refueling times fair’ wasn’t actually fair at all? Calculating refueling time should be pretty straight forward across the board. Yet they nearly change the refueling BOP every other race weekend. So obviously all of their high tech stuff isn’t allowing to find a balance.

        • Andy Flinn

          February 5, 2018 at 4:07 pm

          Tim, I’d complain if I lost to another team simply because their fuel flowed faster out of the fuel rig.

          I’d rather the race winner be determined on the track or at least by quicker pit crews – not by a superior fuel rig.

          • Tim

            February 6, 2018 at 9:32 am

            They did lose because the fuel flow out of the rig was unequal due to BOP.

            The pit crew was quicker, as stated in Marshall Pruett’s article. That is one of the factor behind why their refueling was quicker. They dropped the car before any other team could, which enhances the refueling time.

            And BTW three of the four were in the top 8 for fastest laps. So it’s clear that the speed on track was also race winner level.

            https://twitter.com/thebpillar/status/957756589594816513

    • Haskellb

      February 5, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      They found a grey area in the rules and manipulated the internal structure of the fuel cell to make the fuel flow much faster (5-8 seconds per stop) than the Audi that was tested by IMSA to determine fuel flow restrictor. They might not have violated the letter of the law but they knew they were violating it intent. In my opinion neither Land nor Audi has a legitimate complaint.

  4. WoodyJ

    February 5, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Racing used to be about innovation before it became a show, thanks to NASCAR. IMSA (NASCAR) seems to want to be the equivalent of NASCAR Cup, IROC or SCCA spec racing which IMO is an embarrassment to what is supposed to be a professional series. Sadly, there are too many current fans who seem to prefer the “show” over what real racing once was. The way BoP is administered renders the Championships irrevalent with rewards to slower cars and penalties to faster ones, after nearly every race. BoP is probably a necessity due to the weight/power/speed variations of the cars in the three classes but IT SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON AND LEFT ALONE. It is apparent to me that IMSA values the show over the sport.

    • Max

      February 5, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Realistically after Tobacco and Alcohol marketing left the ability to pay for endless development went away. These series just are reacting to the realities of that.

    • Me

      February 6, 2018 at 12:45 am

      This is simplistic thinking, at best.

    • Jettrd

      February 6, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Agree wholeheartedly….could care less who “wins” with all of this BOP BS.
      Miss the simpler times (1960’s) when one could innovate in reasonable economic terms

  5. Jenner

    February 5, 2018 at 11:04 am

    There is more details out there as to what Land did. Not hard to find.

    Basically, IMSA got “Penske-ed”. It happens in all forms of motorsports. IMSA penalized them for being innovative and thinking outside the box. All within the WRITTEN RULEBOOK.

    • KW

      February 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      Well said.
      The team had found out a way how to accelerate fuel refilling WITHIN THE RULES (the car and the rig were checked before and after the race by the officials and were compliant!). So the Land team checked the rules carefully and found a “gap” they could use. This is simply clever and must not be penalized! Instead, if they find this is against the “sense” of the rules, the officials should find out exactly what they did and modify the rules FOR THE NEXT RACE in a way that this is not possible any more in the future.

  6. Greeny

    February 5, 2018 at 11:45 am

    I understand IMSA wanting to have close competition but penalising a car/team when no regs or rules have been broken is just absurd. The Fords in GTLM were by far the fastest car in class but I didn’t hear of them getting 5mins time penalty for being the fastest on the road. If all is legal and correct it is wrong to penalise. Set the parameters before the event and if no one cheats then the teams should be left alone.

    • Bob Jones

      February 5, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Because Land’s system, as even the team admitted, is NOT the system IMSA tested and certified. They used their volume restrictors within the tank to improve the flow rate thus decreasing the refuel time. However, the rules have stated that ‘time for refueling’ can and will be balanced to maintain the BOP released by the team. Unfortunately for them IMSA has closed the loophole by specifying refueling rates. They were faster than the rate IMSA had tested at. And sorry, they DO NOT have to release that data to you.

      Notice how Land isn’t protesting and saying they were screwed even a little? Cause they are grownups and realize they pushed the envelope and were caught. All it will do is then make the restricting system, balls blocks etc, required to be nominated by the manufacturer and not team by team as IMSA had assumed. And yes, there is a VERY VERY VERY clear rule that states even mid race IMSA can request information, investigate and penalize a team for being outside the previous BOP parameters. It’s not hard to find and is written in clear English.

      If you don’t like the rules watch the other sportscar series that Europe pretends to support. But they make the rules and fan opinion, correctly, doesn’t matter a wink

  7. jason

    February 5, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    IF Land leaves the series it would not surprise me. Remember that drove Magnus the other Audi team out in 2015.

    • Bob Jones

      February 5, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Land isn’t going anywhere, they are mature adults. As opposed to most of the petulant little children here. They have not once said they were screwed by the rules. They have been professional and asked why, how and what can we do. And mid race, fixed the problem by slowing the flow rate to meet the IMSA BOP for the Audis

      • John Biggs

        February 5, 2018 at 2:44 pm

        They aren’t complaining because it doesn’t get them anywhere. Not because ‘they were caught’. Let Audi do the talking and move onto Sebring is the right move since we all know IMSA will never admit mistake

    • Andy Flinn

      February 5, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      Jason, Magnus left IMSA last year because their team owner got caught at the 2016 Petit Le Mans violating the minimum drive time rule.

      I can’t really blame him (for violating the rule, not for leaving the series) since Magnus was in the hunt for a race win.

      However, Magnus clearly broke the rules.

      By the way, Land won the 2017 Petit Le Mans. So it would be difficult to suggest that “NASCAR” (IMSA) has it in for Audi.

  8. Doogle-14

    February 5, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    In previous races I have seen interviews with teams mentioning other teams having quicker refuel times. Although IMSA has tried to have fueling time being the same, it may have prompted IMSA to be more strict. I’m a big fan of “The Unfair Advantage”, so it was a shame that Land was penalized so severely for an exploited gray area. Minimum pit time may clear up that gray area.

    • Greeny

      February 5, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      Why not just sit the whole field behind the pace car for 23hrs 58mins and let them all have a dash to the flag. That way most of them would finish on the lead lap and only seconds apart. Problem solved!!!

      • Doogle-14

        February 5, 2018 at 2:41 pm

        I think there is a happy medium that can be attained. I believe 24 hours of Spa had madatory pit stop times last year, Nurburgring for sure where the car sat there for 10 seconds after work was done. Those were much longer than 40 seconds(understanding fuel and tires done separately). At a 40 second mark it still means you have to be sharp on driver and tire changes.

        Being that GTD is a Pro-am(although I know there are limits for P and GTLM) category I wonder what a team like Magnus think about minimum pit times?

      • Jettrd

        February 6, 2018 at 10:11 am

        Right on !!! It’s almost to that point anyway with all of the “exciting pace car action” BS that IMSA throws out….lap after lap after lap of it…jeeezus f !!

        Yeh, just go ahead and keep ’em behind the pace for 23 hrs 58 min

  9. sunset bend

    February 5, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Maybe if your races can so easily be gamed by refueling rates, then you are the problem, not the competitors.

  10. rissas dad

    February 5, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    sorry off topic, but look at the rear wing angle in the pic above, that looks rather odd. Is this the daytona low-drag setting? Looks like its set at a similar angle as the rear window slant.

    • John Biggs

      February 5, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Rear wing broke at one point, so this could have been taken by chance duringthat pitstop when they came in to repair it.

  11. WBrowning

    February 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    It would have been interesting to see if IMSA would have caught the discrepency in pit stop/refueling length if there would have been enough Yellow Flags to keep everyone on the same lap? 2 laps on everyone at halfway is kind of a red flag.

    I’m sure the Ford GT guys were under close scrutiny with their big lead too. Chip Ganassi Racing had two flawless runs which compounded their lead, as almost everyone else had one issue or another. They also made close to a perfect call on when to change to and from “Wets” and staying on track during “Yellow flags” to keep their chasers from getting laps back, brilliant!

  12. JEZ

    February 5, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Land penalty aside, minimum refueling time is a bad idea. Not only does it take away innovation (as the fueling BoP also does) but it takes away a whole bunch of strategy. Teams short fill to try to save time in the pits, and then manage fuel on-track. Once you’ve reached the end-of-the-race fuel window, when to pit for that last stop is a very strategic decision.

    We’ve seen teams be just short on fuel and have to come in for a splash at the end (losing several places, but not dropping all the way to the bottom). What happens if that 6 second splash is mandated to take 40 seconds?

    It’s going to far.

    As far as this case:
    IMSA has stated their expected empty fuel time (of 40 seconds), and Land was well quicker than it. Even if this is not stated in the “written rules”, there are all kinds of things that go on in racing that are not in the written rules. At the drivers meeting the race marshals state all kinds of things they might penalize you for that are not in the “written rules” for that race. All the teams know that, and they are abide by it or suffer the consequences. Land knew the expectations going in, they did not meet those, and they got penalized. I do applaud them for being creative and coming up with a great solution, but understand why the advantage of the solution can’t be fully used.

  13. MikeK

    February 5, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    3 minute minimum pit stops is what they need. It saves money for the teams because they can take their time (don’t need to pay high dollar crew members), no more restrictors for fueling (make it anything goes) and safety (no more wheels falling off due to crew members cutting corners on pit stops).

    If that is not good enough, then do what Creventic does. Use regular old gas pumps like you do at the gas station. It pumps slow and thus, who cares what you did in the filler neck. GT3 cars already do it in the series, so it’s been proven that it works on those cars. Plus, if your car holds 100L, better not pump in 101L.

  14. John

    February 5, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Smart of Land to take the high road (though they couldn’t appeal even if they wanted to), and allow Audi to do the talking for them, with clear messages being conveyed, implicitly, if not explicitly. Audi sells plenty of race cars, and there are plenty of places for them to race.

    But, what’s done is done.

    How IMSA responds is what bears watching.

    The other story said that Land gained five to eight seconds per stop.

    A 300 second penalty, not counting the time lost to the in/out laps, was equivalent to trying to negate the advantage over the equivalent of 37 pit stops.

    It clearly wasn’t commensurate to the infraction, but the only option IMSA had at its disposal.

    On balance, perhaps Land got a little too clever, and IMSA got caught with its pants down.

    As someone already said, it happens. But, in this era of budget-conscious, carefully-(micro)managed competition, it’s incumbent upon the sanctioning bodies to have all their ducks in a row. As the authority, it’s their duty, and doubly paramount because even when the officials screw up, it’s the competitors who pay the price.

  15. juneracer

    February 7, 2018 at 8:37 am

    if the team was smarter they would have known 5-8 seconds would be obvious. you go for a 1-1.5 second advantage and you can have that all year as it appears they have 5-8 seconds to pull from each time there restrictor changes.

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