Vaillante Rebellion #13 has been disqualified from the 24 Hours of Le Mans results.
The English/Swiss privateer team in the LMP2 category was a in race long battle with the sister car #31 and Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 regarding the lead of the category. Sunday morning at around 8, Nelson Piquet Jr handed the car over to David Heinemeier Hansson, and then the first technical problems showed up. Heinemeier Hansson couldn’t start the car following the pit stop, and it cost them around 5 minutes in the pits, before the team had knocked on the starter motor, so the car could start again.
The same problem appeared later, when Mathias Beche jumped in the car, and in this instance the team lifted off the engine cover, knocked on the starter motor until the engine fired up, and then put the engine cover back on. No mechanics are allowed to touch the car with the engine running, so the team got a Stop & Go for that.
The same problem came again later, but the team had a solution. A new engine cover with a small whole drilled in it, so they could get a stick in and hit the starter motor, in case it didn’t want to start – in a way so they didn’t have to remove the engine cover.
At the final stop of the race, a mechanic was trying to put a piece of tape over that hole, but the car was send away, before he managed to do it.
After the chequered flag, the car was send to Parc Ferme, where nobody is allowed to touch the car.
A mechanic from the team brought some tape into Parc Ferme and started to cover up the hole. One of the scrutineers from ACO/FIA see that and orders him to stop doing that immediately, which the mechanic does. But it’s still deemed touching a car under Parc Ferme conditions, and therefore reported to the stewards.
Team boss Bart Hayden is called to the stewards to explain about the modification and the actions of the mechanic.
The stewards decide it is an illegal modification to the bodywork, that is not down to mechanical wear or crash damage plus a mechanic has touched and tried to modify the car under Parc Ferme conditions. So the car is disqualified from the race, and furthermore the team has been reported to their ASN for potential further penalty, for not acting in the spirit of the sport. The last bit might not give them any kind of penalty – but the team will lose two Le Mans trophies – not to talk about the 36 points in the drivers- and team Championships that also disappears.
So instead of being right up front, Piquet, Beche and Heinemeier Hansson are only 10th in the LMP2 Championship, a massive 76 points away from the leading Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 drivers.
The Vaillante Rebellion teammates in #31 are currently second in the Championship, but with 38 points up to the leaders.
However, there are still 150 points to race for, so a lot can still happen. But if we’re being realistic, it’s quite unlikely for the #13 to be in the mix for the LMP2 title this year – though a trophy is still possible.