The news on Monday that Keating Motorsports lost its GTE Am win, came as a shock to the sportscar world. Yet again a class win was decided after the race.
The Keating Ford was handed a 55.2 second time penalty after post-race technical inspection found the fuelling rig delivered a full load under the minimum 45 second time allowed, them minutes later it was disqualified for a similar offence to the #68 GTE Pro car, the fuel tank found to be 0.1 litres in excess of the permitted total under the BoP with additional fuel still to be drained.
Ben Keating, owner and driver of the #85 Wynn’s-liveried Keating Motorsports Ford GT gave a full and candid explanation for the penalty.
“As disappointed as all of us are at Keating Motorsports, we have elected to accept the ACO’s decision regarding the disqualification of the No. 85 Keating Motorsports Ford GT from first place in the GTE-Am class in this past weekend’s 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Our intention every year at Le Mans, and in every race in which we participate each season, is to compete within the parameters of the rules and with an overall spirit of sportsmanship and professionalism.
“The Keating Motorsports team verified repeatedly before the start of this year’s race that the fuel cell on the No. 85 was at 96 litres in maximum capacity. The fact is that our fuel cell capacity and fuel fill time were both at the proper limits at the beginning of the race.
“However, the new rubber bladder inside the cell expanded by 0.4 of a litre during the race, and our new fuel rig got more efficient by 0.6 seconds after being used a bunch of times over the course of the race’s 24 hours. It is a tough situation, but we failed to build in any margin for error. We were at the limit because we didn’t feel like we had any margin to give.
“Any minute gains from these changes were not factors in what was an otherwise outstanding race for the Keating Motorsports team, our drivers and enthusiastic and supportive sponsor partners. We are proud of our overall performance in the race and believe we clearly showed for nearly the entire 24 hours that we were the team to beat.
“Le Mans is a 24 Hour race that can sometimes be decided by less than a second or a few millimetres. We failed to account for any margin of error this year but won’t make the same mistakes again. We hope to compete in future editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for many years to come.”
Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company also reacted to the news, stating that the Ford was still proud of Keating Motorsports’.
“We at Ford are very proud of Ben Keating and the Keating Motorsports team for all they accomplished at Le Mans,” he said. “I was at the race and saw first-hand their professionalism and was thrilled by their win in the GT Am class. Ben and his team overcame some tough moments and delivered an incredible result. To have that taken away from them based on the thinnest possible margin of error is disappointing, but they can leave Le Mans with their heads held high.”
Ben Keating also appeared on the Inside The Sports Car Paddock Podcast this week, 24 hours after receiving the penalty. You can listen to that with the player below: