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.