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LMP2-Winning G-Drive Oreca Excluded

TDS Racing-run Oreca 07 Gibsons excluded for illegal modifications to refueling rig…

Photo: MPS Agency

The LMP2 class-winning No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, along with its sister No. 28 TDS Racing entry, have been excluded from the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a technical infraction involving its refueling rigs.

Per a stewards decision issued late Monday, both of the LMP2 cars, which had finished first and fourth in class, were found to have had a non-compliant part in the fuel restrictor that created a significantly faster fuel flow.

It has provisionally handed the class win to the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A460 Gibson of  Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao, although G-Drive/TDS plan to appeal the ruling.

Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Andrea Pizzitola had initially scored a dominant victory, leading 23.5 of the 24 hours in their Russian-backed entry, which won by two laps.

However, according to a report issued by the FIA, a non-homologated “additional machined part” was inserted into the flow restrictor that extended to the dead man valve, which changed the dimensions of the cone in the restrictor.

The team contests that nothing in the regulations prohibits the addition of other parts in the refueling mechanism, although the FIA states that the refueling system is regulated within the rulebook.

It’s understood its apparent refueling advantage was observed by several teams during the race.

According to data from the WEC’s official timing partner Alkamel Systems, the cars were on average 6-8 seconds faster during each pit stop compared to the competition.

Unlike the LMP1, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes, the LMP2 category does not have a minimum refueling time.

The exclusions provisionally places the No. 39 Graff-SO24 Oreca of Vincent Capillaire, Jonathan Hirschi and Tristan Gommendy second in class, with the Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer-driven No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson third.

It marks the second exclusion from a podium finish at Le Mans for Rusinov, whose third-place class finishing car was thrown out of the 2013 race for exceeding the maximum fuel capacity.

That exclusion ultimately cost the Russian driver the LMP2 World Championship that year.

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

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Ricky

    June 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Say whaaaaaaat??

  2. Gonçalo Santos

    June 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    My god!! What is this??? Might just demote everyone… Really ACO approved hoses and then guess what disqualify them… Incredible. What is the ACO thinking off

    • u spechul

      June 18, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      FIA approved refuelers that were altered illegally by the team

      • Gonçalo Santos

        June 18, 2018 at 4:01 pm

        I doubt that. Even the darkest, dodgy team like G Drive and Rusinov to go that way. I think that this years penalties and demotions are complete bullshit and just random

        • Dan

          June 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm

          Just because you don’t like them doesn’t make them random, the explanations were given for them and are clear cut. Your feelings of hatred toward the ACO and FIA dont get trump the rules.

          • Gonçalo Santos

            June 18, 2018 at 4:29 pm

            Ok let´s get a few things straight. If we are going to follow the rule book then fine. The 1979 Porsche 935 that won with Ludwig and the two Whittington brothers should be disquallified because they had to change an alternator belt wich was thrown to the track inside a sandwich. Also the Toyota that won spun its wheels on the airjacks wich is illegal. This is just the Alonso factor because the number 5 Ginetta did the same and guess what they had a Stop and Go. Still think that the penalties are not random and have sense??

          • Just another fan

            June 18, 2018 at 5:16 pm

            @Gonçalo, the issue with the Hybrid is that, apparently, spinning the wheels under electric power is not forbidden by the rules.
            And the Porsche 935 should have clearly been DQed but you can’t compare today with the 70s as today the organizers have access to much more information to act upon – information that the public quickly becomes aware of as well.

          • Mike D

            June 19, 2018 at 12:10 pm

            1979: I would imagine the violation was discovered after official results were posted. Can’t really do anything about it.

            Toyota wheelspin: Wheelspin with the car on the jacks is not specifically forbidden in the sporting regulations (because on 58 of the 60 cars, it’s impossible with the engine shut off).

            Manor penalty for wheelspin: The penalty was on the #6 for wheelspin while on the ground leaving the pits, which is specifically forbidden in the sporting regulations.
            http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results_NoticeBoard/07_2018/02_Le%20Mans%2024H/34_Decision%2034.pdf

    • Rus'L

      June 18, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Oh come on. If this is true, this is blatant cheating. They changed the fuel rig which is against the rules and gained a substantial advantage which was noticeable during the race.

      Your constant bitching is getting really tiring. You have some valid complaints in the restrictiveness that Le Mans was run under this year, but that doesn’t mean teams can just cheat at will while other teams were following the rules just because you don’t like the other restrictions.

  3. FlyingLobster27

    June 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Where’s the anniversary win for Alpine? THERE’s the anniversary win for Alpine!
    And my oh my, that’s the second year in a row a podium finisher in the P2 class has been found with illegal parts. How does this happen in a quasi-spec category?!
    Also, this means that, over 24 hours after the 24 hours, we still didn’t have a result.

    *shakes head and tuts*

    • Just another fan

      June 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      I thought it was Renault. During the race it was called Renault-Alpine but the parade in Paris was in honour of Renault…
      More seriously, an Oreca rebadged as Alpine has won before in LMP2 in 2016, finishing 5th overall but completing 10 laps less than this year’s Oreca rebadged as Alpine.

      • FlyingLobster27

        June 19, 2018 at 1:14 am

        Renault bought Alpine in 1973, so it was a division of Renault by then, and benefited from significant amounts of money from the parent company. The winning car’s name was A442B, so that’s from the Alpine line.
        And it won in 1978… 40th anniversary. But that’s more of a facetious remark, Alpine always have had very strong driver line-ups.

        • Andy Flinn

          June 19, 2018 at 10:10 am

          Flying Lobster, I don’t mean to be wet blanket but as was stated by just a fan, the Alpine LMP2 is a rebadged Oreca chassis with a spec Gibson engine. So I’m not sure what is Alpine about it.

          But yeah, I guess it’s still an anniversary win for Alpine if you consider that the spec Gibson engine in the Alpine LMP2 is based on a Nissan engine and Nissan is now part of the Renault global auto group. But then since they ALL have spec Gibson engine, ANY car finishing in the LMP2 class at Le Mans this year would have scored an anniversary win for Gibson, I mean Nissan, I mean Renault, I mean Alpine.

          I understand the Ligier LMP2 is a branding exercise. After all, there is no fifth chassis in LMP2. It’s a bit like saying the PBR beer sold today is the same as the brew sold by the Augie Pabst family all those years ago. Same basic concept. We all get the point.

          It’s nice to see a non-Oreca/spec Gibson FINALLY score a podium finish in WEC LMP2 (United Autosports now in third). It took a few disqualifications, but the Ligier deserved a spot on the podium, regardless.

          • Andy Flinn

            June 19, 2018 at 10:13 am

            The Alpine LMP2 is a branding exercise – not the Ligier.

          • FlyingLobster27

            June 19, 2018 at 11:55 am

            Thank you Andy, I know all this. But the record books won’t have an asterisk in them to say “lol jk, it’s really an Oreca”, they’ll just say an Alpine won its class 40 years after Alpine-Renault’s overall victory.
            I think Just Another Fan’s point was that the Signatech Oreca sponsored by Alpine also won in 2016 which WASN’T an anniversary year for the Alpine name.

            And actually, your freudian slip on the Ligier has some ground to it. Onroak Automotive don’t own Ligier, no more than they did Morgan! It’s also a naming rights deal, there’s nothing Ligier in the Onroak and thank goodness for that… Do you know what Ligier make nowadays? If you don’t, you’re in for a shock.

          • OscarUniform16

            June 19, 2018 at 12:24 pm

            Gibson did build Nissan-derived V8s for the previous generation of LMP2s, but I’m pretty sure the current LMP2 spec Gibson is bespoke. Either way, it sounds like G-Drive earned their exclusion fair and square, and it has nothing to do with anniversaries.

  4. JBV

    June 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Yikes!

  5. Nips

    June 18, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Russia at it again

  6. Sorc

    June 18, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Christ after Rebellion last year you would have thought teams were paying attention.

  7. John

    June 18, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Odd that P2 is excluded from minimum refueling times, but I guess that will change.

    There are many worthy small facets within the overall competition, but I won’t object to attempts to completely eliminate gaming of high-risk elements such as fueling and fuel rigs.

    Remove them from the competition equation and let it occur in other areas.

  8. Just another fan

    June 18, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Well, this is a serious infringement. I wonder how big will be the fallout. Will Mr. Rusinov be successful with his appeal? What if he doesn’t? Will G-Drive race on Le Mans, WEC or ELMS any more? He has always clashed with FIA/ACO and tried to push the limits with the driver’s classification year after year. When will he say “I had enough!”?

    PS: The good thing about this is that the G-Drive didn’t win overall.

  9. Kinu

    June 18, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Today it’s hard and harder to win outside the rules. I think in the past rules where harder enforce but not today. Cameras and social media changed that. They had an unfair advantage so it’s a clear call. It sucks but then don’t cheat and complain when you get caught.

  10. Dave

    June 18, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    This is like the penalty that was handed to Land Monteplast at Daytona. They altered the shape of the inside of their fuel tank to allow faster fueling. I believe that G Drive did not think the part was a violation, but they should have disclosed it or gotten an opinion if they were confident it was within the rules. Fuel can go into the car much faster and it should. Artificially slowing the refueling time removes the skill in tire changes and driver changes and other pit maintenance. Heck, Toyota was so casual that they were swapping front and rear clips during pit stops.

  11. ozan

    June 18, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    #russians
    watch documentary about what kind of mentality they have on sports; “Icarus”

  12. Av

    June 18, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    Both cars with the same issue.

  13. Matt

    June 18, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    I feel for JEV, after reading his story earlier.
    Especially after a 24H race.
    Rules are rules I guess, as harsh as it may sound.

  14. peter p

    June 19, 2018 at 4:48 am

    38 pit stops 8sec gain per stop thats about 5min nearly 2 laps not bad!!!

  15. Joeri Marcelis

    June 19, 2018 at 6:35 am

    this is very similar to what happened to Land in Daytona. does anyone know if it’s the same part?

    • Dave

      June 19, 2018 at 7:21 am

      Land altered the interior of the fuel cell. This involved the interior of the hose.

      • N8

        June 19, 2018 at 8:44 am

        Yeah, I think it was alterations to the vent and baffling inside that allowed air leave the tank faster as fuel came in. A LOT less blatant than what’s described here and, arguably, not even outside of the rules. That’s why IMSA had to mandate a fill time as well.

        BUT, it’s pretty obvious that a light is shining on fill times now in all forms of sportscar racing. If you think you’re going to modify a fuel rig and no one’s going to notice, you’re an idiot. This pair is WAY to experienced to think they’d get away with this and WAY to much of a favorite for the win to even try. Dumb, dumm, dumb.

        • Alan D

          June 20, 2018 at 7:01 am

          Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, to let air escape to avoid the effect you get when you dump a bottle of water, water coming out, air going in. But its surprising they were able to mitigate the effect of a set orifice dimension.
          Ain’t it grand when you watch a a sporting event and then find out it was alternative history?

        • Andy

          June 20, 2018 at 8:21 am

          It is clearly outside the rules, the LMP2 refueling rules list 4 or 5 parts that are not homologated. Then rules then state ALL other parts are set and may not be modified in anyway including change of materials. The part modified allowed the refuelling restriction to remain open wider than allowed under the rules, thus they were excluded. His appeal is utter bs and the decision will stand. There’s no grey area in the rules, it is specifically called out under the rules.

      • peter p

        June 19, 2018 at 12:04 pm

  16. GridS2Plaza

    June 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Leading 23.5 of 24 hours in a “spec” class should raise eyebrows about something being “fishy”.
    Post race DQs are a lot like having other sports disrupted by long instant replay reviews and overturns.
    If the dq’s stick it is ashame that those that are awarded the improved spots didn’t get to properly celebrate their successes post race such as United Autosport moving up to a podium finish.

  17. KW

    June 19, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Typical for Rusinov, not typical for TDS. G-Drive’s influence on the teams they are paying for fielding their cars seems to be significant. I am noticing well that this puts Pierre Thiriet on the class win, who has split up with Rusinov last year for unknown(?) reasons. A well deserved win for Pierre…
    And to those who are speculating about the “branding issues”: Guy Ligier has started a separate business building small “city cars” back in the 1980’s, when he was still active in Formula 1. This “city car” business exists until today, the Ligier racing team was given up when it was sold to Alain Prost in 1996. The name “Ligier” for the OAK-built cars comes from an agreement between Jacques Nicolet and Guy Ligier in 2013, when Guy Ligier allowed to use the name for the LMP2 and CN prototypes.

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