Ben Keating says he will not appeal the FIA’s decision that has led to the disqualification of his GTE-Am class-winning Ford GT from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, having taken responsibility for not leaving enough “margin for error” in the fuel systems.
The No. 85 Ford GT, which was driven to victory by the Texan and co-drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, was found to have exceeded the maximum fuel capacity by 0.1 liter and not meet the minimum refueling time by 0.6 seconds in post-race scrutineering on Monday.
It resulted in the car being excluded from the race, promoting the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR to the class victory.
Speaking to Sportscar365, Keating said he was “100 percent” positive they were at the limit of 96 liters prior to the start of the race.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Keating said. “The only thing we can figure out is if the [fuel] bladder had a wrinkle in it or what, but somehow or another over the 24-hour race, our fuel cell expanded.
“The fact is that we were one-tenth of a liter with too much fuel. If I was the second-place car, I’d be saying a rule is a rule.”
Keating said the second infraction, for not meeting the minimum refueling time of 45 seconds, came down to a miscalculation.
He said the crew tested the refueling rig multiple times pre-race.
“We extrapolated out what we thought would be a full fill load of 45 seconds,” Keating said. “We didn’t get it right and we didn’t leave ourselves enough margin for error.
“In both instances, we just tried to get too close to the sun.
“Keating Motorsports was not trying to gain an unfair advantage. We were racing to the rules and just too close to the limit.
“The fact is that our team performed flawlessly, we had a great race and nothing can take that away from us.”
Keating said the disqualification hasn’t changed his desire of returning to Le Mans in the future.
“I think we have the ability to perform at a level that can win the race again,” he said. “We did not win the race because of an advantage we received from any type of fueling.
“Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, I wish we had put in a half-a-second margin and a half-a-liter margin and everything would have been fine.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would do those things as that race is not won by a half-second on every stop.
“I hope to go back and prove that it wasn’t a fluke.”