After receiving a fair few complaints from multiple teams and drivers as well as some being confused by the new introduction of code 60 along the pit lane the organizers of the British GT championship have decided to suspend the use of it. Code 80 is used widely across Europe predominantly in GT racing as a virtual safety car, it restricts all cars on the circuit to 80 km/h (approximately 50 mph) when an accident has occurred. However, after it being used for the first time during the opening race of the season it was noticed that not all competitors were staying at the speed as multiple drivers lost the gaps they had prior to the full course yellows being issued. Cars are tracked by a delta lap time to try and ensure they comply with the speed limit but there were multiple drivers and teams along the pit lane misinterpreting the new rule.
After the disastrous opening two-hour race of the season on the Brands Hatch GP circuit the championship manager (Benjamin Franassovici) held a meeting to get feedback and thoughts of officials, teams and time keepers. After listening to their thoughts he decided to suspend using the virtual safety car and revert to using the traditional safety car until further notice. Most people knew that for the first time using the code 80 format would suffer some gremlins but too many aspects that were out of the officials hands during the opening race so the decision has been made to suspend the use of it.
GT3 class race winner Jonny Adam in the TF Sport run Aston Martin.
The championship organizers already know what went wrong and what they need to do to make the code 80 rule successful. A few of the changes they will be looking into is some kind of system inside and outside the car to be able to time the drivers and ensure they are sticking to the 80 km/h and clear rules to the drivers as to when and how to behave during the code 80 periods. An issue faced by everyone is that the cars only have one speed limiter which is for the pit lane so they are all relying on the driver in front to keep up to the speed limit and not be going slower. Once the issues have been resolved then they will consider reintroducing it.
One of the main issues that was highlighted during the racing weekend was that Team Parker’s Rick Parfitt Jnr had a fourteen second lead when the code 80 was issued after Phil Dryburgh and Matthew Graham’s accident. By the time a few laps had been completed under the 80 km/h speed limit he was down to having a one second lead. Therefore, this proved that the car ahead of Parfitt Jnr was not doing the full speed limit. Another driver that noticed other competitors weren’t sticking to the limit was Century Motorsport’s Nathan Freke as he kept being slowed up by a driver who was ahead but not going fast enough to be doing the 80 km/h. Some of the drivers lap times differed to others quite a bit, which proved there was an issue with some cars holding up others. Also some drivers slowed as soon as they were told about the full course yellows and code 80 being issued by the team over the radio and others didn’t slow down until they saw the first yellow flag.
© Fay Tilley 26th April 2016.