SRO Motorsports America has stated that a “procedural error” in race control led to “some confusion” in Sunday’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America race at Road America.
In a stewards’ decision issued late Wednesday, officials addressed K-PAX Racing’s protest made post-race, where the two-car Bentley Continental GT3 team lost positions to the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Serra following the yellow flag period, which did not result in a safety car period.
The second place finish for Serra was enough for co-driver Toni Vilander and R. Ferri to provisionally clinch the Pro driver and teams’ championships.
The incident was triggered by an accident from the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of David Askew, which led to a full course yellow being called with 11 minutes to go in the 90-minute race.
In the report, the stewards state that the race director instructed the clerk of the course to announce that the safety car would not be deployed, although the timing and scoring screen displayed the message “safety car” at the time.
Moments after Askew entered the pits, the clerk of the course, as directed by the race director, announced “green flag” which was also displayed on the timing screens.
The procedure countered what was communicated in the drivers’ meeting, in that a full course yellow would always lead to a safety car period in the series.
“The stewards recognize that the safety car message displayed on the timing screen may have caused some teams to believe that a safety car would be deployed, and also how the restart procedure would be implemented,” the statement read.
“The stewards acknowledge that some competitors may have responded more quickly than others to the green flag message, perhaps anticipating a green flag at each marshals post rather than at the start finish line, however article 46.4 states that ‘Once the problem is resolved, the track will return to green and the information will be given on the monitors and team radio’.”
Having considered the matter “at length” and having reviewed team communications, the stewards have determined that the full course yellow procedure was implemented in accordance with the regulations.
“However, the initial safety car message on the timing screen together with the message delivered in the drivers’ briefing may have caused some confusion and may have led some competitors to misinterpret the instructions regarding the restart, assuming that a safety car restart would be implemented,” the statement read.
“Taking all of this into consideration, the stewards find that there was a procedural error made in race control. The stewards also find that no individual competitor acted in a manner against the sporting regulations in regard to this incident.
“Whilst the procedural error is regrettable, the stewards do not consider that the results of the race should be changed. The stewards also determine that there should be no penalty against any individual competitor.”
K-PAX to Appeal Stewards Decision
K-PAX Racing has opted to appeal the stewards’ decision according to program manager Darren Law, which will now go to the sanctioning body, USAC, for a final ruling.
As a result of the appeal, the results remain provisional.
“We disagree with the results of their decision,” Law told Sportscar365. “They upheld our protest and admit they made a mistake. They did not correctly follow the ‘safety car’ procedure.
“Because of this they leave us no option other than to appeal their decision. It is now in USAC’s control.”