Story of the Year — Refueling-Related Scandals
Not one but three major refueling-related scandals shook the sports car racing world this year, resulting in a raft of penalties and unprecedented sanctions handed down by the sport’s governing bodies.
A clever modification of its refueling rig, permitted within IMSA rules, saw Montaplast by Land Motorsport’s Audi R8 LMS gain time in the pits in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, only for IMSA to slap the team with a controversial mid-race Balance of Performance penalty.
The incident led to significant changes in IMSA’s refueling regulations, which are now controlled by minimum refueling times and a strict adherence to components inside refueling rigs that are inspected each weekend.
Five months later, a refueling advantage was back in the spotlight but this time at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when the LMP2 class-winning G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, as well as the sister TDS Racing entry, were excluded for similar infringements.
The double disqualification for alleged illegal modifications to its refueling rigs was upheld by the FIA Court of Appeals, with the result confirmed some four months after the race.
Arguably the biggest scandal, however, came in November, when both Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSRs were stripped of all of its FIA World Endurance Championship points after it was found that the team manipulated the FIA-supplied data logger system to give the cars a two-second refueling advantage per stop.
The German squad had been leading the GTE-Am championship standings at the time and as part of the sanctions, were also excluded from the Six Hours of Fuji, where the violation had been detected.
Honorable Mentions: ‘Alonso Mania’ (hype surrounding Fernando Alonso’s arrival into sports car racing), ‘Hypercar’ Regs Taking Shape (evolution of FIA WEC’s new top class for 2020/21 season), SRO Takes Over PWC (Stephane Ratel’s bold expansion into North America).