The annual Nurburgring 24hr race has just concluded with Audi taking the victory in its new R8 LMS from the BMW factory-supported Marc VDS Z4 GT3 and Falcon Motorsports Porsche, but whilst the undisputed kings of endurance racing managed to keep their crown this afternoon, another element of todays race shone through.
Speed limits are usually the boring things you have to keep to on motorways and through built up areas, so the idea of them making their way into racing was always going to be controversial. However after Jann Mardenborough’s flip into the spectator area during a VLN race earlier this year ended tragically with a fatality, the prospect of GT3 cars racing around the famous Nordschleife was in doubt.
A temporary ban followed by announcements from Germany’s motorsports governing body DMSB to have temporary speed limits, saw drivers today having to limit their speed to 124mph through the critical Flugplatz, Schwedenkreuz and Antoniusbuche sections of the circuit just a few hundred metres before those areas, in order to prevent cars going airborne.
Drivers were also limited to 155mph on the long Dottinger Hohe straight section, and whilst it was visible from some camera shots, the racing remained the same. Much like goal-line technology in a football match, this seemed to work without it interrupting with the flow of the race.
The Code-60 procedure, which sees drivers slowing down and being limited to 60kph through a particular area of the circuit which has been the scene of an accident also worked well, with the stewards coming down hard on drivers who didn’t respect it – some even getting their licence taken away for going in excess of the limit.
Such a system has been used in Le Mans as opposed to the Safety Car, which can often spoil the racing for long periods whilst barrier repairs and clean up operations take place. F1 is also similarly testing the Virtual Safety Car system, having tried it out during a GP2 race during last weekends Spanish GP. And whilst the old saying goes “Cautions breed Cautions,” it certainly isn’t the case for Code-60’s.
Whilst this is a short-term fix for GT3 classes around the Nurbergring, it seems the system can be used globally across motorsport where the cars outgrowing the circuits is increasingly becoming a problem with the more torque and power they can output.
Photo Credit: Autorennsport