Fehan: “I Don’t Think Anybody Can Complain” on Le Mans BoP Outcome

Photo: Corvette Racing

Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan has praised the FIA and ACO’s GTE-Pro class Balance of Performance from last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, in what resulted in one of the most competitive races in recent history at Circuit de la Sarthe.

Cars from all five manufacturers finished in the top-five in the hotly contested category, led by Aston Martin Racing, which fought the Pratt & Miller-run Corvette squad for top class honors in a frantic final hour.

While the No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor were forced to settle for a third place class finish, after Taylor faded late on worn tires, Fehan still gave high marks to the Le Mans-specific BoP, which he said delivered a far more competitive race than last year.

“I think it’s a testament to the hard work that the sanctioning bodies put in for Balance of Performance,” Fehan told Sportscar365.

“I don’t think anybody can complain about what they saw over the last 24 hours as far as that’s concerned. [For us], great team, great race car, some good fortune, just not enough.
”

Aston Martin ended the race-long battle with class honors, thanks to an impressive closing stint by Jonny Adam in the No. 97 Vantage GTE that he shared with Darren Turner and Le Mans rookie Daniel Serra, who recorded the category’s fastest race lap.

All five cars were within six-tenths of a second in fastest race laps, compared to last year, which saw nearly a two-second delta between the manufacturers.

Prodrive Chairman David Richards, who celebrated on the top step of the podium in the British manufacturer’s first GTE-Pro class win at Le Mans, said it was an extraordinary achievement to have all cars in the fight.

“It was one of those races where it could have gone any way and right from the beginning, all the GT cars were very well matched,” Richards told Sportscar365.

“We had five cars on the same lap and five different manufacturers on the same lap at the end of the race, so I think people will look back on this as a very historic race.”

Ford and Ferrari, which dominated last year’s event in what AMR Managing Director John Gaw referred to a “two-tier” race, were also in the mix, although delayed due to various issues.

The No. 67 Ford GT fought back from a shifting issue to snatch second in class on the final lap, despite not having the ultimate race pace.

“I actually was thinking about it an hour or two before the end of the race, and just looking at the lineup there’s a Corvette, there’s an Aston, a Ferrari, a Ford. Everybody was up there in the mix,” Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA Team Principal Mike O’Gara told Sportscar365.

“I’m not sure the ACO could have asked for anything more. I think the weather may have caught some people out with setup and tire selection and stuff like that.

“I think that some people thought we were just going to show up on race day and run away… but we’ve been pushing from the beginning.

“Hopefully this shows everybody that we just didn’t have the pace this year.”

Accidents for both the No. 82 Risi Competizione and No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTEs, meanwhile, put a major dent in the Prancing Horse’s hopes of victory, although the No. 71 car of Davide Rigon, Sam Bird and Miguel Molina came home fifth in class, one lap behind the class-winning Aston.

Porsche, which gave its mid-engined 911 RSR a fourth place class finish in its Le Mans debut, however, wasn’t as complimentary on the BoP, after struggling in the speed traps and getting only a 8kg weight break following qualifying in the only BoP change of race week.

Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser said the race, like last year, still ultimately came down to a battle between two manufacturers, although it was heavily improved.

“The outcome was these two cars were fighting for the final result is still something to do, I would say, but way better than what we’ve seen before. Way better,” he said. “This is a general positive I would say.”

Walliser said he would generally be supportive of again utilizing a Le Mans-specific BoP for the class in 2018, after the strides made from this year’s event.

“It worked, we have to go in more details,” he said. “We know the cars better, and there will be new cars [in 2018], so we will see. But in general, I would say [the BoP] was not so bad.”

And while being denied its 9th class win at Le Mans, Fehan said he was pleased that the Corvettes were at least in the hunt all race long, something he couldn’t have said 12 months ago.

“These people have worked very, very, very hard to try and come up with a plan that will provide what we saw today, and they deserve some serious credit for what they’ve accomplished,” Fehan said.

Ryan Myrehn and James Newbold contributed to this report

19 Comments

  1. JM

    June 21, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    “I actually was thinking about it an hour or two before the end of the race, and just looking at the lineup there’s a Corvette, there’s an Aston, a Ferrari, a Ford. Everybody was up there in the mix,” Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA Team Principal Mike O’Gara told Sportscar365.

    Fine, but then continues;

    “Hopefully this shows everybody that we just didn’t have the pace this year.” What? Ford finished 2d, were within the top five for over 2 hours near the end, despite a shifting glitch, guess he means “did not have the pace for another two-tier race”. Ford, stop, please stop, your whining even when your trying not to whine.

    • begrand

      June 21, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Its true. They did not have the speed to be there fighting for the lead. They were minutes behind. The ACO needs to remove a little of the weight and or give them back some boost.

      • Zigmont Batchawana

        June 21, 2017 at 9:55 pm

        All cars within six/tenths of a second apart on their fastest laps and your moaning. The Multi-Matic Gt finished 2nd and it’s laps were very competitive. After last year’s absolute sand bag embarrassment, a little humility would be in order, yet they want to slaughter everyone every race in their 525.000 dollar hand built special. In IMSA they usually set the fastest lap and dominate qualifying and their still not happy even while running four cars at selected events trying to load the podium in their arrogance. I guess it stings when you are quite often beat by someone with slower race speeds, with better and smarter team work. WWWAAAHHHH I want all the trophies!

        • Andy Flinn

          June 21, 2017 at 10:32 pm

          Zigmont, first place went to the ProDrive and third went to the Pratt & Miller, so I’m not sure what your point is.

          Also, there’s nothing (except budget constraints) preventing any of the factories currently racing in IMSA GTLM from fielding four entries. Larbre has asked GM for help racing a pair of Corvettes in WEC Pro so that would be four Corvettes at Le Mans. So I don’t see your point there.

          Ford is dominating IMSA because they won Daytona and are fast in qualifying? A simple review of the last three IMSA GTLM races and the current GTLM points standings would prove otherwise. So you have no point there.

          • junerace

            June 22, 2017 at 7:07 am

            Ford’s not used to having to race. they usually just have to decide how much to show and then hope they don’t have any bad luck; mechanical, electrical or crashing into someone. Ford won’t be racing in GT long, i predict this is there last Le Mans…this was just a PR foray for Ford. if they can’t dominate there’s no purpose for them to race in GT.

          • Zigmont Batchawana

            June 22, 2017 at 10:03 pm

            Andy Finn. Your reply to my post is probably the most ignorant mess of jaundiced ideas I have ever read. Are you really so shallow that you can not ascertain simple english meaning and sentence structure? I simply stated the Multi Matic Gt finished second, point being obvious to those with a measurable IQ {2nd is an honorable and good finish that should make anyone somewhat happy”. Point two. No one mentioned anything about budget constraints, simply stated was they sometimes use four cars which is an obvious advantage over using one or two cars, DDDUUUHHHHHH! Point three. I did not state they were dominating IMSA you fool, re-read if you are not still in your coma and you will see where I said they were dominating qualifying and fast laps! Not every race, but the majority. They are being being bested as I stated by better teamwork with slower cars, READ and COMPREHEND. You go around various boards trying to achieve your own dominance by correcting others, and you only manage to come across as a bafoon!

      • JC

        June 21, 2017 at 10:34 pm

        Minutes behind after 23 hours of racing? Please. All that means is that they got behind on their pit stops or had bad luck with a safety car.

      • Kenneth Billups

        June 22, 2017 at 12:25 am

        If you say they should give the Ford gt more boost, then they should not restrict the Corvettes engine ability to breath. Remember the Corvette was dominant that many of cars left the class. The two Corvettes were actually racing against the Corvette. However Corvette followed them down by decreasing the size of the engine. Last year Ford did not earn that win; it was given to them.

        • fourloko

          June 22, 2017 at 8:09 am

          they should of nerfed the aston a bit, and given ford a little more boost.

      • Bakkster

        June 22, 2017 at 11:05 am

        Ford were minutes behind in part because the 67 had shifting problems that meant they spent about 2.5 minutes more in the pits than the winning Aston. Finishing closer to the car in front despite spending more time in the pits should be celebrated, instead of trying to pin the blame on the BoP.

  2. Matt

    June 22, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Porsche moaning again as usual. Pathetic. Maybe the car is just not aerodynamically efficient? Maybe Walliser should look closer to home instead of blaming the ACO? It’s easier to blame everybody else for the lack of success than actually do something about it.

  3. Almost...

    June 22, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Overall good job by the FIA but the Astons CLEARLY had a BoP advantage. Prodrive is good, but not in a higher league than the other GTE teams.

  4. junerace

    June 22, 2017 at 7:19 am

    tires played into the race this year more then last year. tires clearly are one of the most important aspects in lap time. the near record heat made tire options and selection more significant then past years, at least with the majority of the Michelin runners. its not all BoP… setting up for the tires and choosing the correct option is worth more then the tenths of a second that separated the class. that being said the Aston’s are carrying too little weight and have too much engine for Le Mans. but in the past they usually take themselves out, but not this year…congrats to them…socialist racing (making everyone equal) is a tough goal…

    • Andy Flinn

      June 22, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Junerace, attempting to create a level playing field were every manufacturer has a shot at winning is a “socialist” goal?

  5. WBrowning

    June 22, 2017 at 9:35 am

    The Dunlap tires looked good because they were only on the lightest car make (Aston Martin), lighter by by quite a bit.

    • Zigmont Batchawana

      June 22, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Andy, once again you are completely wrong and can not understand simple English. Socialism among other things, means making everyone equal, and no one gaining an upper hand. I could go further, but that should suffice for this simplistic statement you are once again trying to belittle. Yes, it is in a way a socialist goal, the very meaning of socialism defines his earlier statement, hence a level playing field for everyone by stamping out the successful. Are you on meth again?

      • Andy Flinn

        June 22, 2017 at 11:44 pm

        Zigmont, I learned about sticks and stones way back in Kindergarten. You must have been held back.

        Anyway, here’s a tip. Instead of insulting people annonymously, when you post something, make sure you have a POINT.

  6. Steven

    June 22, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Well, no one was complaining other than Ford. Because for some reason, they think they should get to be 2-3 seconds/lap faster than everyone.

  7. JamieR

    June 25, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Well said Doug. Some teams have class….

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