O2 Racing Technology's Mikael Grenier (63) battles Gustavo Yacaman during the Firestone Indy Lights Series Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 2011. (Photo: IndyCar.com)
INDYCAR and the Firestone Indy Lights Series released an announcement today revealing that O2 Racing Technology and team owner Mark Olson will be suspended from all INDYCAR-related activity until December 31, 2012.
The official move comes on the heels of a controversy stemming from what Olson called "integrity issues" regarding Firestone Indy Lights inspection protocols and procedures. The FILS teams of Sam Schmidt Motorsports were reported to have failed technical inspection following the Freedom 100 event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, the series later rescinded the penalties and overturned the decision to suspend the team, reinstating their results as of the Sukup 100 at the Milwaukee Mile.
On the heels of those actions and similar issues at Milwaukee during post-qualifying tech, Olson and O2RT publicly announced that they were withdrawing from the event and the balance of the FILS season, claiming that the lack of transparency and consistency compromised the integrity of the FILS championship.
On June 23, O2RT released the following announcement regarding their actions:
Due to recently discovered integrity issues (outside of our control) with the 2011 Indy Lights series championship, O2 Racing Technology’s sponsors and investors have decided to temporarily take a step back and to reconsider their participation. Unfortunately, this also impacts the teams’ ability to participate.After a series of discussions with the other team owners, drivers, and INDYCAR, we have been generally assured that INDYCAR is aware of the issues with the tech inspection reporting and penalty procedures and will be addressing them at some point in the future.We’re heartbroken over the knock-on affects that this situation has on our team members’ families and on the careers of our drivers, but we’re hopeful that confidence will be restored in the integrity of the Indy Lights championship in a timely manner and that our partners will be encouraged to resume their participation.
INDYCAR responded today with the following press release:
INDYCAR, the governing body of Firestone Indy Lights, has suspended the entrant license/membership of O2 Racing Technology and the individual membership of team owner Mark Olson until December 31, 2012, for actions during The Milwaukee Mile event June 18-19.
Olson was suspended for attempting to impede the conduct of the event by encouraging others to breach contracts with INDYCAR and withdraw from the David Hobbs 100. O2 Racing Technology was the only entrant to withdraw, removing its No. 36 and 63 entries from the participant list.
The actions were in violation of multiple rules as listed in the Firestone Indy Lights rulebook:
- Rule 1.1: Actions threatening the integrity of INDYCAR, Firestone Indy Lights and/or orderly conduct of an event.
- Rule 2.11 (C): Conduct creating adverse notoriety with respect to INDYCAR, Firestone Indy Lights or an event.
- Rule 9.3 (A): Attempting to or engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct or conduct detrimental to racing, INDYCAR and/or Firestone Indy Lights.
- Section 14 of the Event Entry Form: Engaging in tactics which would disrupt or delay the events.
"The mere act of attempting to impede the conduct of the event is something we will not tolerate," said Roger Bailey, executive director, Firestone Indy Lights. "We believe we have a great championship with Firestone Indy Lights that will help develop drivers and teams to prepare to move to the top level of open-wheel racing in North America, and we must maintain the integrity of our series."
The penalized parties may protest/appeal as prescribed in the Firestone Indy Lights rulebook. A protest/appeal may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalty.
The Zionsville, IN-based O2RT fielded cars for rookies Mikael Grenier and Peter Dempsey.