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Mixed reactions to GTD finish at Rolex 24 (VIDEO)

Jan 26, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

It was a barnburner of a start for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and a dramatic finish in the GTD class after a penalty was assessed to the Level 5 Motorsports’ No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 for what was deemed avoidable contact.

Markus Winkelhock, who benefited from the call in the class-winning No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8, explained his vantage point in the post-race press conference. Winkelhock was racing Alessandro Pier Guidi for the win.

“An incredible last lap,” said the German. “On the exit of the corner, (Pier Guidi) tried to push me in the grass, so it was not the way to win a race. (The call was a) fair decision and I’m absolutely happy being on the podium today.”

As for the other side, unsurprisingly, Level 5’s Townsend Bell took reaction to the decision.

“There was absolutely no contact. It was the last lap of the race,” Bell said. “This guy, Alessandro, he did an amazing job. He brought the Level 5 car home for the win. But I’m gutted for him and the entire team. I just don’t understand the logic.”

Some of the tweets that came into Bell’s Twitter feed from fans or racers voiced their opinion or displeasure.

  1. testover6370 - Jan 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Phantom penalties and unnecessary full course cautions that drag on for hours? You can tell NASCAR is running this series.

  2. apm - Jan 26, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    “Mixed” means overwhelmingly negative, I guess. Wow. Not much of a fan of Scott Tucker but his team got shafted there.

  3. rlfj - Jan 26, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    Seems clear they were looking for an opportunity to tighten up the race by throwing the Yellow in typical NASCAR style. But to take away a podium finish from the Ferrari for… racing!… with no contact, indelibly tainted this otherwise well managed race. Attempting a pass on the outside is always optimistic and the Ferrari clearly had the line and position into and through the turn. Ugh.

  4. danoid1 - Jan 26, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    Sorry, IMSA. If you’re going to decide a race on the last lap with an “avoidable contact” call then you should actually have contact…either that or something so flagrant that you have no choice. This incident fit neither description. As an official, there’s no way I would have called that.

  5. danoid1 - Jan 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    THIS JUST IN…IMSA reviewed the incident and the penalty assessed to Level 5 Motorsports has been rescinded. They have been awarded the victory.

    • rlfj - Jan 26, 2014 at 7:43 PM

      Ahh pubic opinion. Even IMSA can’t ignore it. Unfortunately we now have one team whose celeration is ruined and another who has been denied that wondeful opportunity on top of the podium at Daytona. Life goes on.

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