Lamborghini incurs major penalties from IMSA after Rolex 24

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

Lamborghini had an interesting debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona to say the least.

Four of its five Lamborghini Huracán GT3 cars fell out of contention despite major speed, and the fifth car, Konrad Motorsport’s No. 28 entry, made up a 35-plus second deficit in the final hour to catch, then pass Magnus Racing’s No. 44 Audi R8 LMS for the GT Daytona class lead.

It was so fast it ran out of fuel in the process, and ultimately finished fifth, while Rene Rast had some superhuman skills to save fuel and bring the Magnus Audi home to the class win.

Anyway, the point of the preamble is that the Lamborghinis debut – and pace – was officially, too good.

When lap times started falling early during the race, and with a best lap of 1:45.873 for Richard Antinucci serving as the race’s fastest lap and the best GT Le Mans lap only a 1:44.012 (Antonio Garcia, No. 3 Corvette C7.R), it stood to reason that the Lamborghinis had shown way too much.

After all five of its engines were taken by IMSA for review, the result is a big penalty from the sanctioning body.

Here’s the release from IMSA:

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

Following observed performance during Round 1 of the 2016 Championship, IMSA has levied penalties under Sporting Regulation Attachment 2, Paragraph 2.9 against the following GT Daytona (GTD) teams 11, 16, 21, 28 and 48, as well as to the manufacturer, Lamborghini.

Each team was assessed a post-race penalty of a stop plus five (5) minutes which was added to each car’s finishing time.

The manufacturer penalty was assessed as a loss of Championship and North American Endurance Cup points and a $25,000 fine.

So what is Sporting Regulation Attachment 2, Paragraph 2.9, you ask? It’s this:

2.9. Competitors and Manufacturers are expected to provide valid data upon request to assist IMSA in the BoP process. Any Competitor or Manufacturer who deliberately gives false information, attempts to influence the BoP process, or displays a level of performance beyond the expected result may be issued a penalty prior to, during, or after a Race of a minimum Stop plus five (5) minutes. A penalty assessed prior to or during the Race must be served within the final thirty (30) minutes of the Race, regardless of the time when the infraction was discovered and/or the penalty communicated. Penalties assessed after the Race are added to the Car’s finishing time for the Race and may include a lap count penalty.

So what does this mean?

It essentially calls out Lamborghini’s BoP (Balance of Performance) process to IMSA, and indicates they’ve sandbagged and didn’t play their full hand.

IMSA was yet to release the official results from the Rolex 24, and this is probably the reason why.

Here’s where the five Lamborghinis finished prior to this news:

  • 5. 28-Konrad Motorsport
  • 14. 11-O’Gara Motorsport
  • 16. 48-Paul Miller Racing
  • 19. 16-Change Racing
  • 22. 21-Konrad Motorsport

As you see, Lamborghini didn’t finish that strongly anyway – Change and Paul Miller had a coming together overnight when battling for the lead with Justin Marks and Bryce Miller driving.

But still, based on performance, you can see they’ll be dinged.

IMSA has issued the revised provisional results. Here’s where the Lamborghinis have fallen to after the time penalties:

  • 10. 28-Konrad Motorsport
  • 15. 11-O’Gara Motorsport
  • 16. 48-Paul Miller Racing
  • 18. 16-Change Racing
  • 21. 21-Konrad Motorsport

The No. 16 and 21 Lamborghinis actually move up a position due to a different penalty assessed to the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, which was dropped to 22nd and last in GTD due to Article 12.5.3 for a drive-time violation.

Article 12.5.3 states:

12.5.3. (SSR) If a Driver exceeds the maximum drive-time, the finishing position for each Car the Driver is nominated in, regardless of declaration for championship points, is placed behind all other Cars in that class for the purpose of finishing positions and awarding any finishing points or Point Fund / Prize Money and all other Cars are elevated in the finishing positions, finishing points and/or Points Fund / Prize Money.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.