The move comes after the fallout following IMSA’s unprecedented in-race penalisation of Land by Montaplast-Motorsport at the Rolex 24 for irregular, but not illegal, fuel fill times.
A technical bulletin was released to teams earlier today, specifying minimum fuel times across all three classes in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The bulletin states that for the 12 Hours of Sebring, “minimum full refuelling times” are set at 30 seconds for Prototype, 34 seconds for GT Le Mans and 40 seconds for GT Daytona.
The move follows acrimonious high-level statements by drivers, team owners, media outlets and IMSA itself regarding the unprecedented penalty issued to Montaplast by Land-Motorsport at last month’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
The German team had a two lap lead in GT Daytona when IMSA issued a five minute stop and hold penalty for a “consistent and beneficial” advantage beyond the acceptable fuel refill time envelope. IMSA officials tested the rig and restrictor during the race, as well as the team’s Audi R8 LMS in post race tech, and found them all within regulations but upheld the penalty. The car, driven by Chris Mies, Jeffrey Schmidt and the van der Linde brothers, eventually finished seventh in class.
It later emerged that Land had found a way to configure elements inside the Audi’s fuel tank, reducing fuel fill times without contravening any IMSA regulations. Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing suggested that IMSA mandate minimum pitstop times in an interview with Sportscar365.com.
“If they say there is a target time they try to achieve with a restrictor, why don’t they make the target time mandatory?” he told the website.
“The teams don’t have to develop, they don’t have to give out penalties. With a tolerance margin, or whatever, we would stay out of a lot of things. Just give us a clear time, and if it refuels quicker, just stay static in the pits and wait.”
With this new measure, IMSA appears to have done just that. However, the new regulation clearly states that minimum fuelling time applies only to full fuel – IMSA’s position on shorter fuelling remains unclear. With a late race splash-and-dash or short fuelling to bring a full service stop in line with maximum drive time a crucial element of endurance racing strategy, the organisers will have to further clarify their position before the 12 Hours of Sebring.