Rolex 24 winner hit with post-race penalty; will keep victory

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Mar 9, 2023 | Acura, Honda, IMSA, HPD, Rolex 24 at Daytona, Meyer Shank

Photography Credit: Chris Tropea

More than a month after the Rolex 24 concluded, IMSA announced it had penalized the race-winning No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura. What was the violation? The “potential manipulation of tire pressure data.”

To be specific, “Per Attachment 3.6.6.D, intentional application of software offsets within the pressures being reported by the tire pressure monitoring system and associated Car telemetry system is prohibited and may be subject to penalty.”

How did officials discover the issue? Honda Performance Development (HPD) reported it to IMSA after the official results were released.

No changes will be made to the official race results,” IMSA said in a press release. “The No. 60 team and drivers retain credit for the race victory, trophy, and race-winner watches. All other teams and drivers will retain the points and prizes commensurate with their finishing positions as shown on the official race results. There also will be no change to GTP manufacturer points.”

So, how did IMSA penalize Meyer Shank Racing?

  • Loss of 200 team and driver IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points.
  • Loss of all team and driver IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup points.
  • Loss of race prize money.
  • Team receives a $50,000 fine.
  • Team and Entrant representative Mike Shank placed on probation through June 30, 2023.
  • Revocation of IMSA annual credential and indefinite suspension of IMSA membership for team engineer Ryan McCarthy.
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Comments
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wae
wae PowerDork
3/9/23 11:04 a.m.

I saw that on Motorsport last night or this morning.  It seems like going under the minimum tire pressure could give a not-insignificant performance advantage.  What was the motivation from IMSA for not DQing the car?

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/9/23 11:07 a.m.

In reply to wae :

That could be a factor.

I was just discussing this with J.A., and we both agreed that it seems like HPD caught the discrepancy, and, wanting nothing to do with the shenanigans, reported it to IMSA.

Certainly seems like the guilty parties got thrown under the bus.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/9/23 11:20 a.m.

pretty serious penalty for the race engineer.

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/9/23 11:23 a.m.
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

pretty serious penalty for the race engineer.

I agree. Indefinite suspensions are fairly rare in professional motorsport.

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/9/23 11:24 a.m.
wae said:

I saw that on Motorsport last night or this morning.  It seems like going under the minimum tire pressure could give a not-insignificant performance advantage.  What was the motivation from IMSA for not DQing the car?

I'm speculating that it was because the official race results were set when they discovered the infraction.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
3/9/23 11:25 a.m.

Didn’t NASCAR just recently disqualify its first Cup winner in like 60+ years? 

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
3/9/23 11:33 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Didn’t NASCAR just recently disqualify its first Cup winner in like 60+ years? 

Yes, right after the Pocono race last year, both Joe Gibbs Racing cars, which finished one-two (Hamlin and Kyle Busch), were disqualified for added material to the front fascia. This was discovered immediately during post-race tech, though.

There is a certain "safety" aspect to this story.  Back when Continental/Hoosier was the major tire supplier there was talk of trying to set a max speed record on the high banks with a prototype.  The problem that developed was they couldn't cheaply (for just one project) build a right rear tire that could withstand the forces that the engineers projected.

Lowering pressure might improve cornering in cold weather by helping create more heat in the carcass.

I suspect that the current tire manufacturer has set a lower limit for air pressure to prevent tire failures at speed.   But, then again, I didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn last night.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
3/9/23 1:36 p.m.

This is almost as bad as the Altima in Champcar with the sticker "stock is best" being caught with a stroker motor.

j_tso
j_tso Dork
3/9/23 2:01 p.m.

The bigger problem is messing with the data. Hopefully the suspension discourages any other race engineer from doing that.

In reply to Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) :

I forgot what year it was, but the right rears were having blowouts and teams were openly blaming Continental. I'm sure Michelin sets minimum pressures because they don't want any of that.

 

Aaron_King
Aaron_King GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/9/23 2:16 p.m.

Saw this on HPD's twitter:


It will be interesting to see what this means for MSR's contract with Honda. 

Shadeux
Shadeux GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/9/23 2:28 p.m.

In reply to Aaron_King :

I read that Honda says they will act like it never happened. Just continue going with MSR. But, I bet there is a whole lot of stuff moving around under the table and in back rooms. Don't mess with Honda's heritage.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
3/9/23 2:33 p.m.
Shadeux said:

In reply to Aaron_King :

I read that Honda says they will act like it never happened. Just continue going with MSR. But, I bet there is a whole lot of stuff moving around under the table and in back rooms. Don't mess with Honda's heritage.

Too bad their heritage concerns don't extend into the grassroots ranks. The HPD affiliate program stinks compared to the offerings of Mazda. 

I'm sure business will continue as normal for them. MSR also runs Hondas in Indy with some big time sponsorships. I don't see them cutting ties anytime soon. 

Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
3/10/23 10:34 a.m.

Putting on my tin foil hat...and from someone who has had a good relationship with HPD in a pro racing setting...I believe there is a lot more than meets the eye here.

This could easily have been handled internally within the HPD/MSR relationship.  This whole "coming clean with IMSA" thing is very likely an after-the-fact PR act.  HPD has found things wrong with championship-winning cars before and done nothing like this.

So that tells me the jig was up...somebody else knew (WTR, perhaps?)...and the rest was orchestrated to save face for the brand and allow MSR to mea culpa.

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