Ben Keating had every reason to celebrate after capturing GTE-Am class honors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday at Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.

But the mood changed Monday when Keating and his team learned their Ford GT was disqualified from the race and stripped of its first-place finish due to a minimum refueling time violation and fuel capacity infraction.

“Somehow during the 24-hour race, our fuel cell expanded or had a wrinkle in the bladder that adjusted itself and expanded our capacity of the cell,” Keating said.

The car’s fuel capacity was measured to be 0.1 liter above the maximum 96 liters.

“I understand the rule is very clear,” Keating said. “They give you 0.1 of a liter grace, and we were over that grace.”

The initial ruling was made by the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest).

The ACO moved Keating into second place behind Team Project 1’s No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR.

“It’s never happened to me,” Keating said. “I hate it because it reflects poorly on Keating Motorsports. I want to win, and I want everybody to know I am winning fair and square. I hate that it came down like this. I have seen other things like this happen in motorsports, and it doesn’t happen very often. It hasn’t happened to me.”

Keating, 47, owns car dealerships in the Victoria, Port Lavaca and Houston areas.

Keating Motorsports consists of Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and rookie Felipe Fraga.

“It is what is it,” Keating said. “It doesn’t take away the performance of the team. We had a great race, and we deserved to win.”

Keating and his team will look to put this past weekend’s mishap behind them when they gear up for 6 Hours of Watkins Glen June 27 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

“We still have over half of our normal season in the United States,” Keating said. “I’ll be in New York in 10 days.”

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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