A protest from Porsche GT Team at the handling of an incident that decided the GTE drivers’ title has been rejected by the FIA World Endurance Championship stewards.
Porsche lodged an official protest after Saturday’s 8 Hours of Bahrain, where AF Corse Ferrari duo Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado claimed the championship after winning the race ahead of the No. 92 Porsche pairing of Kevin Estre and Neel Jani.
Pier Guidi seized the lead from Estre and Jani’s co-driver Michael Christensen with 12 minutes to go when he bumped into the Porsche under braking for Turn 15, which sent the Porsche 911 RSR-19 into a spin.
Pier Guidi was initially told to give the position back, only for the Porsche to pit for a planned fuel-only stop that saw the order wiped from race control’s messaging.
In its protest, Porsche claimed that the collision was not reported to the stewards, and that the matter was dealt with solely by WEC race director Eduardo Freitas in contravention of the International Sporting Code.
According to a bulletin detailing the protest, an investigation into the claim found that “all decisions related to the incident” were reported to the stewards by the race director.
The decisions were then investigated and taken by the stewards “in accordance with the race director”, the bulletin read. This was backed up by video and verbal evidence.
Porsche is permitted to appeal the stewards’ decision in compliance with the WEC sporting regulations, International Sporting Code and the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary rules.
Laudenbach: “Sad Day for Porsche Motorsport”
Porsche Motorsport Vice President Thomas Laudenbach described the 8 Hours of Bahrain as a “sad day” for the company’s factory racing department after it missed out on the championship in what the team considered to be unfair circumstances.
Both Laudenbach and Alexander Stehlig, the head of WEC operations at Porsche, indicated that their main grievance concerned the withdrawal of the order for Pier Guidi to let Christensen back into the lead.
Pier Guidi explained that he “couldn’t do anything” to returrn the position once the Porsche entered the pits.
“It’s a sad day for Porsche Motorsport,” commented Laudenbach.
“Our rival nudged our leading car into a spin and drove on to victory. We can’t understand why the race director first issued a penalty and then withdrew it.
“Our drivers and teams deserve the utmost respect. Everyone drove a fair and clean race for eight hours and gave spectators a great show. I’d like to thank them all for this. Right up until the end, the race was a really great promotion for motor racing.”
Stehlig added: “It was a sad end to an extremely exciting race for us.
“Unfortunately, we were spun off the track by a competitor. We can’t understand the race stewards’ decision.
“First, the two leading cars were supposed to switch positions after the contact which would’ve put our Porsche back in the lead.
“A little later, they withdrew this announcement during the No. 92’s pit stop. So, despite our fair and clean race, we couldn’t achieve our goals. That’s why we’ve lodged a protest.”