Vaillante Rebellion‘s lead entry has been disqualified from the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, following video evidence demonstrating deliberate modification of their ORECA 07’s bodywork mid-race being submitted to the stewards.
The car’s three driver lineup of Nelson Piquet Jr, David Heinemeier Hansson and Mathias Beche had taken advantage of exceptionally poor reliability of the LMP1 field to finish third in the overall classification. Only two cars from six LMP1 machines finished, with both of these entries – the race winning #2 Porsche and the #8 Toyota – spent over an hour in the garage apiece. This had allowed the Rebellion to not only finish second in class, but also an overall podium, though their race had not been without troubles either.
In the deep of night, the #13 car developed starter motor issues, causing them problems during each near twice-hourly pit-stops. As a time saving workaround, the Rebellion mechanics had drilled a hole into the car’s rear bodywork, allowing them easy access to an intermittently working solenoid without the need for removing the engine cover each time.
This alteration was reviewed by the stewards, to which they declared the team guilty of “modifying a homologated part and using it partly during the race,” for which they stripped Rebellion of their 3rd placed finish entirely.
In real terms, this meant that Rebellion had been adjudged to have run part of the event with non-homologated bodywork, the stewards making specific note they were not eligible for an exemption from the rule through “crash damage or other cause which may be in mitigation”.
The disqualification of the first Rebellion car in the standings has given Jackie Chan DC Racing a double-podium in the overall standings, and by extension a 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class, with the #37 car of Alex Brundle, Tristan Gommendy and David Cheng promoted to third overall.
Having made a crucial mistake in the dying minutes of the race, the #35 Signatech Alpine of Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and André Negrao have inherited the LMP2 podium they lost on-track, and the lone LMP1 Toyota moves up to eight in the overall race standings.