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FIA: 6H Spa Was Restarted for “Sporting Fairness”

FIA explains background to controversial decision to resume 6H Spa-Francorchamps after lengthy red flag delay…

Photo: MPS Agency

The FIA has offered an explanation of the decision to restart and extend the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, saying a desire to ensure “sporting fairness” was key.

Saturday’s third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship was red-flagged with one hour, 47 minutes left on the clock following the huge crash on the Kemmel Straight involving Earl Bamber’s Cadillac and Sean Gelael’s BMW.

The damage to the armco barriers and debris fencing at the scene of the accident was so extensive that virtually the entire time of the race remaining was required for repairs to be carried out, with a decision to restart the race coming 11 minutes before the originally scheduled finish time of 7 p.m. local time.

The decision was not without its controversy, with Ferrari making it clear that it felt it was denied a likely 1-2 finish as the two factory 499Ps had been running first and second at the time of the red flag.

Instead, victory went to Hertz Team JOTA’s No. 12 Porsche 963, which had been one of a handful of Hypercar runners to pit immediately before the red flag, along with the No. 6 Penske Porsche that finished second.

The two Porsches went on to finish more than a minute clear of the best of the Ferraris, the No. 50 car, which had to pit as soon as the race went green along with most of the Hypercar field.

In a statement given to media, the FIA, which co-runs the WEC alongside the ACO, pointed to article 14.3.1 of the WEC Sporting Regulations as the regulatory basis for its decision to resume the race.

The relevant part of the regulation reads: “If the circumstances so require, the Stewards may take the decision to stop and/or modify the race time set. This may not exceed the time of the Competition provided for in Appendix 1 of the Competition [six hours].”

There is also a provision in the FIA International Sporting Code, point 11.9.3.o, that states the stewards have the power to “modify the official program if requested to by the Clerk of the Course or the Organizer in the interest of safety.”

An additional explainer provided by the FIA added that it was felt ending the race at the originally scheduled time would not have been fair.

“The race session was not extended in duration, but resumed for a period of 1h 44 minutes that was needed to make the necessary repairs and ensure the track is safe to race,” read the statement.

“1h 44m corresponds to the length of the race remaining when the red flag brought out minus three minutes (time from the red flag to the cars stopping on the grid).

“This solution ensured sporting fairness for the competitors, who set their strategies for a six-hour race. Cutting the race session short would mean that some competitors would gain, and others would lose as a result.”

The statement added that 80 meters of damaged barriers and eight meters of debris fencing had to be replaced during the red flag intervention.

Ferrari lodged a protest against the decision to extend the race and the provisional classification, but this was ruled inadmissible on the basis that stewards’ decisions themselves cannot be protested.

The FIA International Sporting Code sets out the grounds on which protests can be lodged, with most of these relating to alleged breaches of specific regulations.

Bamber was handed a five-place grid penalty for causing the collision which brought out the red flags, which will be served in next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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