Ferrari spoiled Ford’s ideal 1-2-3 finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Ford tried to get back at them, protesting the rival team in the last hour of the race. Ferrari counter-protested and now both teams have penalties. Nice try, guys.
The No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team USA GT took the win for the class, but opted to raise a stink about the failure of the position light cluster on the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE that was on its tail late in the race, per Autosport.
If Risi had gone in to the pits to fix this electrical issue, they would have fallen in the standings and Ford might have gotten the perfect 1-2-3 finish I’m sure they desperately desired. The Ford’s sister No. 69 car was right behind the Ferrari as it was, and even the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK GT running in fourth position could have had a shot at the third spot on the podium.
With fifteen minutes to go in the race, Risi was handed a stop-and-go penalty to serve and fix the broken leader light. They ignored it, thank goodness, and explained to stewards that they wouldn’t have had time to get to the garage and make the repair before the end of the race.
Thankfully, because no one except the four-car Ford mega-effort wants to see a race result decided over the nice but not necessary lights that tell you where a car is in the standings, the stewards accepted Risi’s explanation. Stewards gave the team only a 20-second time penalty and a €5,000 ($5,671.50) fine for ignoring the black and orange “meatball” flag that ordered them to repair the lights.
Lest anyone thinks the factory Ford effort is the only one trying to protest their way into a better finishing position, Risi filed a post-race protest over the winning No. 68 car speeding through a slow zone.
Le Mans used a lot of slow zones this year, as it makes a lot more sense to only slow traffic down on a section where an incident has occurred than it does to go to a full-course yellow on the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe mega-course.
The No. 68 car only won the LM GTE Pro class by a little over a minute. A technical delegate had already slapped the winning Ford with a 20-second time penalty for a faulty wheel speed sensor, per Autosport. Thus, the result of Risi’s protest—a 50-second penalty for speeding in the slow zone—would have had the chance to give Risi the win instead.
That is, if Risi hadn’t gotten their own penalty for their ignored repair order. The most important feeling actions you can make end up being beautifully futile like that sometimes.
At the end of the day, after several hearings over the protests, the No. 82 Risi Ferrari was classified 10 seconds after the winning No. 68 Ford GT, and four seconds ahead of the third place No. 69 Ford GT. All the protests did was meter out fines, which, let’s be honest, are the least of your worries if you end up keeping your podium finish at Le Mans.