Michael Shank Racing’s #60 Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype, which finished third at the 51st Grand Am Rolex 24 at Daytona, was subsequently fined and penalized when tech inspection revealed that the car’s engine produced too much power.
Grand Am has not specified the nature of the infraction, saying only that “The engine was found with mechanical adjustments resulting in performance levels outside the documented maximums.”
The team will have to forfeit its third-place prize money of $35,000 and pay another $15,000 to Camp Boggy Creek the official Grand Am charity.
The drivers, Ozz Negri, John Pew, Justin Wilson, Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger, will each forfeit 30 drivers’ championship points, and Ford will forfeit 30 manufacturers’ championship points.
The team has also been penalized one point in the North American Endurance Championship.
“We are as surprised about this as anyone,” said team owner Mike Shank in a press statement. “This was an incredible team effort—not just from John, Justin, Ozz, Marcos, and AJ, but from the entire crew as well as our partners at Roush Yates.
“We are very proud to work with Ford Racing, and we know that the guys will figure out what went wrong and make sure we are not in this position again.
“After having fought back from so far down to make it to the podium, it is hard to put into words how disappointing this is.”
Balance of Performance Problems
Many teams have complained that the wining Telmex-Ganassi Riley-BMWs were allowed too much power by Grand Am officials. Rolex Sports Car Series rules specify specific power and torque output curves for each engine. These rules, called Balance of Performance, are adjusted to allow different engines to compete on a supposedly level playing field
The BMW-powered Telmex-Ganassi cars were slower than other BMW-, Chevrolet-, or Ford-powered cars at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session, which prompted series officials to restrict the Ford and Chevy engines.
At the actual race, Telmex-Ganassi suddenly found itself five mph faster than the rest of the field, leading competitors to suspect the team had been holding back during the test to gain a favorable Balance of Performance adjustment (which it got.)
Because of this top-speed advantage, no team could compete with the Telmex-Ganassi cars during the race. Everyone else was racing for second place.
During the race the Telmex-Ganassi cars were half-a-second per lap faster than the Shank cars. Since the series prides itself on “close competition,” and denies participants the right to try to get more performance from their engines, this performance disparity undermines the spirit of the rules.
Next: Reconsider the Rules