The FIA International Court Of Appeal has finally ruled on the appeals submitted by Honda outfits Münnich Motorsport and Boutsen Ginion Racing against their exclusion from the Slovakian round of the World Touring Car Cup two months’ ago.
Münnich Motorsport’s appeal was successful, while conversely, Boutsen Ginion Racing saw its drivers Benjamin Lessennes and Tom Coronel stripped of their results from Races 2 and 3.
The two teams filed appeals against the FIA Stewards’ decisions ruling that their cars were not in compliance with the boost levels established in the Balance of Performance (BoP) document released ahead of the weekend.
Their ruling followed a similar boost pressure decision handed down to the two Hyundai teams, Yvan Muller Racing (both Yvan Muller and Thed Björk) and BRC Racing Team (Norbert Michelisz, but not Gabriele Tarquini), which were excluded from Race 1 qualifying. The two teams opted not to appeal the decision and their respective drivers started Race 1 from the back of the grid.
Post-qualifying scrutineering for Races 2 and 3 saw Boutsen Ginion Racing (for both the aforementioned Lessennes and Coronel) and Münnich Motorsport (Esteban Guerrieri, but not Yann Ehrlacher) found to be non-compliant, with the same exclusion penalties handed down.
However, the two teams protested the decision and were allowed to start based on their original qualifying positions. They based their appeal that the BoP chart published by the FIA was not compliant with the FIA WTCR sporting regulations as it had not been signed off by TCR promoter WSC Ltd.
The appeal was heard by the FIA’s International Court of Appeal in Paris on September 17 and delivered its verdict. It agreed that the FIA-published BoP chart was invalid, meaning that the cars only needed to respect the TCR BoP boost levels.
“These Technical specifications are subject to revision after further analysis based on race performance and decided by the FIA and WSC Ltd.,” its ruling reads.
“[The] FIA/WSC reserves the right to take further measures in order to guarantee proper BoP. Lastly, Article 3.1 of the 2018 TCR regulations provides that the role of WSC is notably to “ensure the BoP at the start of any TCR Competition and take all necessary decision to keep it through the season. WSC will release the 1st official BoP and will communicate it to any TCR Promoter before the Competitions start. All WSC decisions regarding the regulations will be communicated by means of Notifications and Technical Bulletins.”
“These regulations thus provide, in a consistent manner, that WSC must take part in the decision-making process for the publication of new BoP limits,” it added.
The Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR of Esteban Guerrieri was found to have been compliant and the Argentine driver’s results from Races 2 and 3 were allowed to stand, however, the Boutsen Ginion Hondas of Coronel and Lessennes were still disqualified for a separate violation of exceeded the rev limits sanctioned by the TCR’s BoP chart.
Lessennes’ was therefore stripped of the eighth-placed finish he achieved in Race 2, while Coronel (pictured below) was also disqualified from the same result achieved in Race 3.
Their exclusions have led to a number of changes in the battle at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings. Lessennes’ Race 2 disqualification promotes BRC Hyundai driver Norbert Michelisz from seventh to sixth, allowing the Hungarian – currently third in the standings – to gain two points on BRC teammate and outright championship leader Gabriele Tarquini. Michelisz now sits 24 points behind Tarquini and 21 behind second-placed Yvan Muller.
Lessennes’ exclusion also promoted Guerrieri to eighth and his teammate Yann Ehrlacher to ninth, while Muller’s teammate Thed Björk inherited the final point. Ehrlacher, who is the highest-placed Honda driver in the standings, now sits 30 points behind Tarquini and Björk – sixth on the ladder – is now a further seven points adrift.
After a lengthy mid-season break, the 2018 FIA WTCR season returns to action at this weekend’s first of two rounds in China at the Ningbo International Speedpark.
Images via FIA WTCR Media