Brackley, UK, Thursday 19th July 2001: Following the incident which occurred during Round 3 of the European Le Mans Series at Circuito do Estoril on Sunday 15th July and the subsequent exclusion of Car 72, Pescarolo Sport, a letter of appeal was...
Brackley, UK, Thursday 19th July 2001: Following the incident which occurred during Round 3 of the European Le Mans Series at Circuito do Estoril on Sunday 15th July and the subsequent exclusion of Car 72, Pescarolo Sport, a letter of appeal was sent by Henri Pescarolo to the Portuguese Automobil Federation, with copies sent to the FIA and FFSA. The letter was presented in French, the English translation is as follows;
Mr Chairman, Stewards,
During the 1000km ELMS event at Estoril the Courage C60 Peugeot car of my team, Pescarolo Sport, was disqualified after the race, even though we had won the race and the podium ceremony had taken place.
I lodged an appeal against this decision within the time allowed.
Before going back over the grounds of this disqualification and the events themselves, I would like to inform you that if the stewards were endangered by the collision which brought about the exit of the Coronel Audi, I am particularly sorry, just as Boris Derichebourg is. The incident wasn't caused intentionally, at 290km/h, one doesn't deliberately hit another car, the outcome being unpredictable.
This being said the procedures used are marred by an irregularity. I was not listened to as Director of my Team by the group of stewards before the decision to disqualify was taken. Only Boris Derichebourg had been listened to when the penalty was considered, not for the driver, but for the team. I would like to remind you of my last 33 years as driver and my 20 wins in the World Endurance Championship. That would perhaps allow me to reveal some useful facts for your consideration.
And in any case, as Team Manager, I should have been consulted before the decision was taken, not after, as has been the case.
But going back to the facts, I absolutely do not dispute that Boris Derichebourg hit the rear of the Audi driven by Coronel in the breaking zone after the stands. The statement of my driver is as follows;
"Coronel, after having overtaken me in the straight line of the stands, pulled in front of me. I tried to avoid it (the car) but couldn't manage it, all the more so since my break pedal had begun to have more and more movement. It is in my opinion a 'race event, obviously regrettable, and I deplore it."
The grounds of the disqualification are a violation of articles;
- App. H, Chapter II, Art. 4.1.2 d) Blue flag during the race - App. L, Chapter IV, Art.2.b) Driver not letting other driver to overtake
Can I be permitted to remind you, and the lap by lap is very clear on this subject, that Boris Derichebourg and Tom Coronel lapped for more than 50 laps in the same time, and that they overtook several times and it was a question of two cars at the head of the race fighting for victory. They were separated by 1min 31secs after 4½ hours of the race, that is to say a lap. It is necessary to know that this gap corresponds to a refuelling, and that at this moment in the race, both cars still had the chance of winning. It was therefore logical that the two drivers started a duel of which there was obviously not good ground to wave blue flags and no case to request a driver let another pass. In this case, it would have prevented a driver from defending the chances of his car until the finish.
Mr Chairman, Stewards, if you consider that Boris Derichebourg has done something foolish, it is the driver who should be punished and not his team. This was the first win for the Pescarolo Sport team. We have made considerable efforts, my partner and myself, to be competitive at a high level. My honest and sporting mind has been acknowledged during my long career, punishing the team will lead it to believe that it's the team that is at fault at the strategic level of the race, which is obviously not the case. If, however, the disqualification of the Courage C60 Peugeot of the Pescarolo Sport Team is confirmed we would clearly question the competence of the FIA Appeal Tribunal.
In the hope that these points allow you to re-establish the finishing order approved on the podium.
The date for the appeal hearing by the Portuguese ASN is expected to be announced before close of business on Monday 23rd July.