Disqualified Le Mans #85 Ford should've left "a little more margin"

The Keating Motorsports team that was stripped of its GTE Am class win in the Le Mans 24 Hours "should've built in a little more margin" admits driver Jeroen Bleekemolen

Disqualified Le Mans #85 Ford should've left "a little more margin"

Along with owner-driver Ben Keating and Felipe Fraga, Bleekemolen had helped seal class honours for the Wynn's-liveried Ford, seeing off a late challenge from the Project 1 Porsche that was handed victory after the Keating car was excluded.

Scrutineers found post-race that the #85 machine had a fuel tank capacity that was 0.1 litres larger than the maximum allowed by the GTE Am Balance of Performance, as well as a refuelling time that was 0.6 seconds quicker than the prescribed 45 seconds.

Bleekemolen told Autosport: "The rules are well known, everyone knows that a fuel tank can have a certain capacity. One brand consumes more than another, the other refuels faster.

"With a Balance of Performance they try to equalise everything so that everyone takes the same amount of time to complete a fuel stop.

"We know these rules but of course we try to push the boundaries. You want to refuel as fast as possible but legally. The team checked several times that everything was according to the rules.

"During the race the components can change marginally due to temperature and pressure and that's what we were caught for. We had no advantage, but that's not the point.

"The rule is there and they have to draw a line somewhere. And looking back, perhaps we should have built in a little more margin as a team."

Bleekemolen alleged that race organiser Automobile Club de l'Ouest was searching for a way to ensure the Keating squad did not win its class.

The disqualification followed the #85 Ford being given a black-and-orange flag for a nose change in the early morning hours and a late stop-and-go penalty for Keating spinning his wheels in a pitstop.

"I've never seen the scrutineers searching for something until late Monday evening," Bleekemolen said.

"It wasn't meant to be, but on the other hand it is up to us to make sure that everything is right and that there is nothing to be found; 99.99% was fine.

"Maybe others would have gotten away with it, but that's a question you can't answer."

The ACO declined the opportunity to comment on the matter when contacted by Autosport.

Bleekemolen described the disqualification as the "heaviest thing in terms of experience and emotions I've ever experienced in racing" but said the Keating squad should return to Le Mans next year to avenge its exclusion.

"There are two things you can do: either you stay very angry and don't come back, or you go back to win in 2020.

"We have a very good team and we think we should just go for it again.

"We've shown that we can do it, now we have to make sure that the victory really counts.

"Last night I was really broken. This morning I didn't wake up very well either, but there's nothing I can do about it. You have to go on."

shares
comments
Vergne's Le Mans 24 Hours in 24 pictures
Previous article

Vergne's Le Mans 24 Hours in 24 pictures

Next article

Ford expresses disappointment at Keating Le Mans disqualification

Ford expresses disappointment at Keating Le Mans disqualification
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
55m
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

WEC
Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021