The engine seal penalty compromises Audi's WEC title campaign.
Audi face an additional complication in winning the 2015 World Endurance championship after being penalised and fined for an engine seal irregularity on the No.7 Audi R18 etron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer.
The offense came to light after the morning warm up session at the Le Mans 24 Hours last month when Audi Sport Team Joest engineers removed and swapped the positions of two engine seals without the approval of the scrutineers. This was deemed a breach of Article - 126.96.36.199 of the Supplementary Technical Regulations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Breach of Sporting Regulation 65.B
As a result of the tampering, the electronic seals did not engage and were not readable, either by the scrutineers or by Audi. This in turn constituted a breach of WEC Sporting Regulation article 65.B. Audi homologate the installation of the engine seals and are solely responsible for the assembly of them.
A hearing was assembled for the 23rd June in Paris where Audi attended to explain the situation to the stewards of the meeting. They were headed by Chairman of the Stewards – Jean-Francois Veroux. The Audi representation was led by Audi Sport Team Joest Managing Director, Ralf Jüttner.
A punishment of a €50,000 fine was handed out, but more damagingly for Audi came news of the decision to penalise the No.7 car further by effectively considering the engine used in the race to be the fourth consumed so far in 2015. Audi acknowledged that some of their team members had removed and swapped the engine seals after the warm-up.
Significant blow to Audi title aspirations
The electronic seals are used to check the use of engines in LMP1, as each entry is allowed five units for the whole season. Following the penalty for the Audi No.7 car after Le Mans, it now has just one new unit allowed, and then the three already used ones from Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans.
There are five races remaining in the WEC, all six-hour events: Nurburgring in August, COTA in September, Fuji in October and then Shanghai and Bahrain in November.
The 2015 WEC Sporting Regulations dictate that a 3-minute stop/go penalty will be ‘carried out during the race by order of the Race Director in the first half of the race,’ should an entry go over its allocated five engines.
Lotterer/Treluyer and Fassler currently enjoy a 20 point lead in the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship. However, this lead is over Nick Tandy who is not scheduled to race again for Porsche in LMP1 this season. The British Le Mans winner will however be eligible for points with the KCMG team in LMP2. The next permanent WEC LMP1 drivers in the points table are Lieb/Dumas and Jani on 57 points.
Audi trail Porsche by 16 points in the Manufacturers title chase, despite winning both the Silverstone and Spa 6 Hours earlier this season.