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Nürburgring Endurance

Phoenix Keeps Win After Pit Stop Infraction; Handed €5,000 Fine

Phoenix Audi squad hit with fine and 32-second penalty for pit stop error; victory still stands…

Photo: Audi Sport

Phoenix Racing has been handed a €5,000 ($5,366 USD) fine and a 32-second time penalty for an infraction during its last pit stop at the Nürburgring 24 and will keep its victory as a result.

The confirmed sanction for the No. 15 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II’s engine being switched on during refueling did not alter the result because Kelvin van der Linde crossed the line 55 seconds clear of Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed’s Adam Christodoulou.

While the Phoenix-run, factory-supported Audi did not emerge without zero punishment, it was spared a penalty large enough to reverse the on-the-road result.

The fine and penalty were communicated in a post-race technical bulletin from race organizer ADAC Nordhrein.

Their announcement came almost three hours after the checkered flag at 6:56 p.m. German time.

In the bulletin, the race organizers declared: “After the hearing, the sports commissioners consider it proven that the pit stop was not carried out in all parts in accordance with the regulations issued by the organizer in the announcement.

“The engine was started by the driver a few seconds before the end of the refueling process on the instruction of the team manager. After this mistake was noticed, the engine was immediately stopped again.

“The stewards assess this violation to the extent that no sporting advantage was achieved and the engine was not started for the purpose of achieving a supposed advantage.”

It continued: “In their decision, the sports commissioners assessed that the established offense did not provide a competitive advantage and certainly did not influence the outcome of the competition.”

There was initial uncertainty when van der Linde passed the checkered flag, as the offending pit stop was still shown as under investigation on the official timing screens.

After a few moments, the Audi was confirmed as the winning car, sparking jubilation and relief throughout the Phoenix camp as its fears of losing the race subsided.

“There was a misunderstanding,” Phoenix Racing team principal Ernst Moser told Sportscar365.

“When the car went down, my driver thought he could start the engine, but it is not allowed to start the engine before you are [finished refueling].

“This was a mistake and the engineer told him after a second, ‘stop the engine, we are not finished with refueling. It was penalized by 5000 euros.”

When asked if he was worried about the No. 15 Audi receiving a time penalty that would throw it behind the GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG, Moser said: “No, there is nothing written in the regulations [about] what kind of penalty you will get.

“Before the checkered flag, I did not know what they would do.”

Van der Linde explained that he pushed harder than originally planned during his final stint once he recognized that something went wrong during the fuel-only stop.

“I knew in the moment when it happened, because the car was on during the pit stop,” he told Sportscar365.

“The engine started by mistake, and I knew in that moment there could be an investigation.

“You try to look forward and forget about it as quickly as possible. Then a lap late later, they told me on the radio it could be a penalty so we needed to push.”

At that time, van der Linde was just under one minute up the road from Christodoulou, but his task was to increase that margin to more than a minute.

He said the team initially believed it would receive a time penalty lasting either 30 seconds or one minute.

“I was pushing like crazy: probably taking more risks than I would have liked on that last two laps,” van der Linde said.

“In the end, I’m happy it worked out the way it did. It was a weird in-lap because I didn’t know if I could celebrate or cry.”

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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