Highcroft Racing has lodged an appeal against the penalty that took it out of the lead of Saturday's American Le Mans Series race at Long Beach.
Scott Sharp had taken the lead from De Ferran Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud in the first stint and was leading when he came in to hand the Highcroft Acura over to David Brabham. But the car was held for an additional 20 seconds by the IMSA observer in the pit, who judged that the crew member holding the fire extinguisher was not wearing the correct helmet. That penalty let the De Ferran car back through into the lead, and despite Brabham's best efforts, Highcroft had to settle for second.
Sharp was adamant that no rules had been broken and the penalty was unjust.
"You hate to lose one this way especially when nobody did anything wrong," he said. "We got a bogus penalty and when we later heard that the equipment was fine and the fire extinguisher guy has been wearing the same helmet for the past couple of years.
"That is really a shame because the car was running great and I think we could have won this one."
Team boss Duncan Dayton said series officials had confirmed to him that the penalty was incorrect.
"We were subsequently told that we shouldn't have received the penalty, but it had already been served," he said. "They actually held us for 24 seconds. We had no choice but to protest the decision and it is pending review."
Despite losing out in Long Beach, Highcroft still leads De Ferran – its only full-season rival – by 21 points in the LMP1 standings.