Jeroen Bleekemolen believes that a mid-race change in wave-by procedures cost Black Swan Racing GT4 class victory in Sunday’s Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS.
Bleekemeolen, his brother Sebastiaan and Tim Pappas combined for a third place finish despite having a two-lap lead at one point in the U.S. leg of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli.
The Dutchman told Sportscar365 they based their strategy around the race not having any wave-bys for GT3 or GT4 competitors, which he said race control changed at one point without notice.
“We were told in the drivers’ briefing that there weren’t going to be wave-bys,” Bleekemolen said. “We based our whole strategy around that.
“It was like that in the beginning of the race, which is why we got the lead [by two laps].
“We were smarter and better on strategy than the others.
“We did weird stuff with doing drive-throughs instead of pit stops [to reset the stint length] and that’s why we got two full laps because we had a whole different way of thinking about this race.
“It worked. Then suddenly during the race they started doing wave-bys, which was a total surprise to us.”
At one point under a full course yellow, race control waved the entire GT4 field around the No. 54 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport to correct what it had deemed was an error on its own part that gave the Black Swan car an additional lap lead.
“In the rulebook it says it’s up to the race director, which I think is strange,” Bleekemolen said. “In the rulebook it should say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
“At least in the drivers’ briefing they said, ‘No we’re not doing it.’ That was pretty clear. Then during the race, without saying it on the communicator, it was happening.
“That’s how we lost all of the laps and even lost the race.
“It’s very frustrating of course because on strategy we would have won it.”
The brothers were not joined by Pappas on the podium, with the team owner/driver deciding to leave the track early in protest.
“Tim is really upset,” Bleekemolen said. “He wasn’t on the podium. He’s already on his way to the airport. It feels like they took away the win.
“It’s when you take a step back and you look at it, it’s very simple. The rules should say you do wave-bys or not.
“But you can’t say maybe then it’s not clear and you cannot make a plan.”
Holton “Very Unimpressed” With Race Control
Crucial Motorsports driver/manager Paul Holton has also lashed out at race control for inconsistencies during the race, namely the team’s race-ending incident between Ben Barnicoat and the No. 99 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Jules Gounon that went without penalty.
The team’s McLaren 720S GT3 was forced to retire in the final hour due to damage sustained in the accident.
“I think the driving standards in this race have been exceptionally poor, especially in the end,” Holton told Sportscar365.
“Jules turned left to spin us off on the track. It’s blatant in the video and blatant on the on-board and there’s no penalty for it.
“Race control missed penalties all day. The safety car didn’t pick up the leader at times and waved the leader and half the pack passed.
“We restarted with half the leaders and half of the pack halfway around the track.
“I was very impressed on Wednesday and I’m still very impressed with the paddock. But I’m very unimpressed with race control today.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report