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Ferrari protest into WEC Spa result rejected

A protest by Ferrari against the result of Saturday’s Spa 6 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship has been rejected.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

The Ferrari AF Corse team submitted a protest against the the stewards’ decisions declaring that the race would be restarted after the original time the event was scheduled to finish and the provisional results of the race.

It was ruled inadmissible under the FIA’s international sporting code because “a stewards decision cannot be the subject of a protest”, according to the bulletin confirming its rejection.

The two Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercars were running 1-2 when the race was red-flagged after Earl Bamber’s Ganassi-run Cadillac V-Series.R LMDh triggered a crash that sent the #31 WRT BMW M4 GT3 driven by Sean Gelael into the barriers on the outside of the Kemmel Straight.

The accident happened four hours and 13 minutes into the race but the repairs to the barriers were not finished in time to allow a restart before the scheduled 19:00 finish.

A decision was taken by the stewards to resume the race at 19:10 for a period of one hour and 44 minutes, the remaining time left on the clock minus the three minutes it took from the red flag being shown until the cars formed up on the grid in parc ferme conditions.

Ferrari ended up finishing third and fourth with its #50 and #51 factory entries after the winning #12 Jota Porsche 963 LMDh and the second-placed #6 factory Porsche Penske Motorsport gained time as a result of the red flag because they had pitted just before the stoppage.

Antonello Coletta, Ferrari’s sportscar racing boss, told Autosport after the race: “I do not understand what happened - the clock was running and the decision to restart after the end of the six hours was very unexpected for me.

“Frankly speaking we were in a condition to win the race and I am not happy.

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“My expectation was that we could maybe restart for some laps to finish the race, but not to restart completely for one hour and 44 minutes.”

The decision to resume the Spa 6 Hours was unusual if not unprecedented in the history of the WEC since its rebirth in 2012, but was allowed under the series sporting regulations.

They state: “If the circumstances so require the stewards may take the decision to stop and/or modify the race time set. This may not exceed the time of the competition [meaning six hours].”

An explainer sent out by the FIA in the wake of the race stated that the decision to complete the full duration of the Spa 6 Hours “ensured sporting fairness for the competitors, who set their strategies for a six-hour race”.

“Cutting the race session short would mean that some competitors would gain, and others would lose as a result.”

Bamber was penalised after the race for his part in the accident after tagging Gelael as well as the back of the Proton Competition Porsche 963 with Neel Jani at the wheel.

The Cadillac will have to take a five-place grid penalty on the New Zealander’s next appearance in the WEC, which means the Le Mans 24 Hours double-points round on 15/16 June.

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