Penalties can drastically change the results of a race, sometimes even hours or days after the trophy has been lifted. A recent GT3 event has taken that to the extreme, however, with a driver finishing P14 being granted a win in hilarious circumstances.
As reported by Road & Track, the events took place at the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Race in Fuji this past Sunday. In the second race, the official winner of the event was the duo of Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim and Luca Stolz, who finished down in P14 before a cavalcade of penalties hit the rest of the field.
The issue stemmed from the third safety car period in the race. At this time, race control issued an instruction to the field to pass through the pitlane so competitors would avoid the crash on the start-finish straight. Only two cars obeyed this order, with the rest of the pack failing to heed the instruction. Thus, 30-second penalties were handed down to the leading 13 cars, promoting Ibrahim and Stolz to the winning position.
The race would have otherwise been won by the Aston Martin of D'station Racing. In addition to the main penalty, drivers Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii were also penalized an extra ten seconds post-race for an overtaking move made outside the track limits. That put their final finishing position down to seventh.
The final podium had Ibrahim and Stolz on top, with Setiawan Santoso and Reid Harker finishing second—both cars which obeyed the order from Race Control. Third place went to Lu Wei and Dennis Olsen of R&B Racing—one position down from where they finished on the road.
As an Australian, it strongly recalls my country's proudest sporting moment. Speed skater Steven Bradbury triumphed to claim Australia's first-ever Winter Olympics gold medal when every other competitor crashed out in a pile-up on the last corner. We've had precious little to celebrate since 2002, so the story still brings a tear to the eye of many.
As an aside, in case you're wondering—Ibrahim isn't named after America's pint-sized pop sensation; instead, his title stems from being the son of the Sultan of Johor, ruler of a coastal Malaysian state. This victory makes him the third member of a royal family to claim a sports car win, alongside LMP2 driver Ferdinand Habsburg and WEC driver Abdulaziz al Faisal.
Given the immense value of inherited wealth to a motorsport career, you'd perhaps expect a longer list. Perhaps the heavy social calendar of galas and soirees simply gets in the way for many.
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