Protest Against Maserati Denied
The race stewards for the 12 Hours of Sebring have denied a protest, brought by Aston Martin, against the entry of the Maserati MC12.

The Maserati does not comply with Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) homologation specifications, and as such would not be legal to compete at the 24 Hours at Le Mans race. ALMS runs to ACO regulations, and as such the car does not comply to their specifications either.

Sebring promoters IMSA gave Maserati permission to enter the race on the understanding that their car will be ineligible to earn points in the series, which has caused a flurry of complaints from the competing teams.

Aston Martin, who make their debut in the series at Sebring, made an official complaint to IMSA, but this has now been denied.

A statement from IMSA was released as follows: "The Stewards of the Meet have reviewed the protest filed on March 15, 2005 by the Aston Martin Racing team with the Race Director for the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. It was determined that the protest was filed in accordance with section 9.2 of the IMSA code. The matter was heard by the National Steward, Pete Lyon and the International Steward, Terry Dale, with the Chairman, Doug Robinson, being recused from participation.

"Pursuant to various sections of the International Sporting Code, including but not limited to Articles 2, 3, 5, 20, and 53, IMSA has the authority to promulgate and enforce its own rules. As noted in IMSA Code sections 1.2.2, 1.2.4, and 1.3.2, the IMSA Code takes precedence as the governing body of rules for all events sanctioned by IMSA. Therefore, section 5.7 of the IMSA Code applies and the matter at issue is not subject to protest or appeal. The Stewards also suggest that the team review IMSA regulation 1.3.6.

"As the matter is not subject to protest, the protest fee is being returned pursuant to IMSA Code 9.2.2."

In other words, IMSA has advised that their invitation takes precedence over the sporting regulations, and no appeal can be made to the decision.

Maserati Corse Director Claudio Berro was obviously delighted with the decision, and pointed out that his car does comply with FIA specifications. "We received an invitation from IMSA to race and we accepted it. The ACO and FIA recently came together for the same rules and regulations, and we comply within the FIA regulations.

"The ACO says there is a 66 mm difference between GT1 cars and our car, and seven to ten kilos. We are not concerned about the protest made by Aston Martin. We will respect IMSA's decision."

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