“British GT can change things very quickly”
Ever heard of the expression ‘too many cooks’? Formula 1 certainly has, but fortunately national motorsport tends to be good at keeping things simple.
If something is wrong, it tends to get fixed pretty quickly around the UK circuits.
We recently had a great example of this following the British GT Championship opener at Brands Hatch. All was well as the race began and cars circulated without issue for the first 40 minutes.
Then, bang! Phil Dryburgh’s Aston rolls to destruction on one of the fastest parts of the circuit and the racing is neutralised, but not with a safety car, with the new Full Course Yellow ‘Code 80’ ruling. It limits all cars on track to 80km/h (50mph) at all times during a serious accident.
It caused problems up and down the grid, as teams and drivers grappled to understand the rule, and officials struggled to enforce it. Rick Parfitt Jr was understandably aggrieved to have lost a good chunk of time, and ultimately the race, because of the rule.
Code 80 isn’t totally new. It’s been used since 2014 in the FIA World Endurance Championship, and to great effect. The issue is that the cars in the WEC are far from basic customer products, like GT3 and GT4 versions are.
Many in the WEC have electronic limiters that can engage the 80km/h limit, and the WEC uses an array of data masts and telemetry for every car, so officials can easily see any cars straying beyond the set limit.
In national motorsport the situation is very different. The only limiters most British GT cars have are the pit ones, which are set way under 80km/h, so the rule relies on drivers using their right foot correctly. For officials it’s a nightmare too. Some cars were circulating far too slowly during the FCY. It led to a huge variety in what were meant to be controlled lap times, and accounted for much of the loss, or indeed gain, in time gaps between cars.
Immediately after the race SRO officials, led by British GT manager Benjamin Franassovici, met with timekeepers, stewards, drivers and team bosses.
It was talked about, the issues raised, and the rule was postponed there and then – at least until the relevant technology can be fitted to make it more controllable. Don’t get me wrong, FCY is the way forward for British GT as it improves the flow of a race compared to the use of a safety car.
It is admirable how fast action was taken. Barely anybody had left the track before a decision was made and implemented, and back to safety cars we go, albeit only for the moment. No squabbling, no bickering, and no silly presentations of experimental new rules. Simply back to what we know works.
Imagine if the top level of our sport could operate quite so efficiently…
British GT: back to the safety car after quick action