Duqueine Engineering lost its second place finish at the Four Hours of Red Bull Ring after a small amount of non-homologated fuel was left in the tank from a private test last week, according to team manager Yann Belhomme.
The French outfit used a type of fuel not permitted under the European Le Mans Series regulations in an unrestricted test session at the Red Bull Ring last Wednesday, but failed to clean the tank out sufficiently before that weekend’s race.
Belhomme confirmed that the fuel used in the test was left over from the Cool Racing Norma M30 Nissan which participated in last month’s Road to Le Mans.
Duqueine, which is in charge of the global Norma program, had members of its LMP2 team on-site with Cool Racing at Circuit de la Sarthe.
The team was then able to use the LMP3 fuel, produced by ELF, in its LMP2 class Oreca because it shares the same petrol grade as the Total product used in ELMS.
Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and Nico Jamin finished second on the road in Sunday’s ELMS race but were later disqualified after the non-homologated mix, of which 0.5 percent was from the test, was discovered in a post-race sample.
“Team Duqueine was working with the Cool Racing team to refuel their No. 9 Norma M30 LMP3,” said Belhomme.
“The last race of this car was at Road To Le Mans where the fuel used was ELF [grade] 102. The one used on all the ELMS rounds are of the Total [grade] 102.
“Last Wednesday was a day of private testing at the Red Bull Ring to prepare [for] the meeting. During this day, the gasoline used is free. The staff of the No. 9 Norma has therefore used the excess fuel brought from Le Mans.
“At the end of each run, the tanks are emptied in order to precisely refine the consumption on the lap of the car in order to perfect the strategy of the race to come.
“Some ELF petrol certainly remained in the bottom of the tank and was therefore detected. Between the rounds of Le Mans Cup and ELMS we have a common fuel and it is for this reason that it also found in our LMP2 Oreca 07.”
The Duqueine disqualification meant the No. 24 Racing Engineering Oreca driven by Olivier Pla, Paul Petit and Norman Nato was promoted to second, while the No. 22 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson of Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson moved up to third.
“Beyond the immense disappointment of this disqualification, I wish on behalf of the team to apologize to our magnificent trio of drivers who have made an outstanding job throughout the weekend, to our partner Michelin, as well as to all our sponsors and supporters,” said Belhomme.
“I am of course disappointed but totally accept this decision.”