Embassy Racing missed out on a podium finish in the final round of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone after a time penalty handed to Jonny Kane and Warren Hughes saw them lose third in the LMP2 class.
With Kane found guilty of passing a red light at the end of the pit lane, the pair were hit with a five minute penalty post race, which prevented the #45 WF01 from bringing home a well earned podium.
With the two Embassy cars having qualified seventh and eighth in class, hopes were high for a strong end to the campaign for the team in its first year in LMP2 and when the race kicked off, the #45 car of Hughes and Kane was soon picking up places. However, there was misfortune for team-mates Darren Manning and Joey Foster in the early stages when a bearing failure led to a lengthy pitstop that left them well out of contention as they finished outside the top ten.
Hughes and Kane battled their was into the top three and were running in the podium positions despite the car suffering a clutch failure that led to problems in the pit stops as the car had to be started in gear.
With around forty five minutes of the race remaining, Kane entered the pit lane for his final regulation stop when a incident on track led to the deployment of the Safety Car.
Having already started the car on the starter motor, Kane was crawling towards the pit lane exit with red light in front of him as the field came round onto the start/finish straight. Without the option of holding the car in neutral and uncertain as to whether he would be able to restart it on the starter motor again, Kane made the decision to exit under red and pay the penalty during the race.
Kane radioed back to inform the team of the incident but no penalty was applied during the closing stages of the race with the car taking the flag in a fine third in class. However, as the pair were then preparing to take to the podium, the team was informed it was being a five minute penalty for the incident and dropped down to sixth place as a result.
“Even though we didn't actually gain an advantage and only ran the light due to mechanical problems, officials deemed that we had sought to gain an advantage and gave us the five minute penalty,” team boss Jonathan France said. “Why we were not informed of this as soon as the incident had happened I don't know. If we had, we could have reacted accordingly and as oppose to sitting comfortably we would have gone out and approached every lap like it was a qualifying lap to make up the five minute penalty.”
Even a day after the event, France was clearly unimpressed with the decision although he was quick to praise his team for the way it had performed during the weekend.
“I maintain that it was a harsh decision as the rules state that the penalty for running a red light is a three minute stop and go which would have worked out better for us, so where the five minutes came from I don't know,” he said. “That being said it was a great effort from the entre team and a great spectacle for our fans and guests at Silverstone on Sunday. Our performance this weekend has shown that this team, the drivers and the cars can run at the front of the LMP2 class and really our 2009 starts now.
“We will be using this as a platform for next year and will be extremely busy through the winter to launch a more competitive assault on the Le Mans series next year.”