You may have already read in the motor sport press, or heard about this at the circuit in a briefing, but new rules concerning what constitutes the limits of the track are in force this year. In essence all of the “black stuff” up to the outside edge of the white line or kerb is regarded as the racing circuit. Everywhere outside of the white line or kerb is regarded as off the track.
This means that a driver can drive on the white line or kerb, but if any wheel strays outside of this limit, the car will be judged to have left the track.
During qualifying or during a race there are penalties for infringement. In qualifying a time will be discounted for breaking the new rules. During a race there is a sliding scale of penalties –
- Second report : Black & white warning flag
- Next report: Five-second time penalty
- Next report: Drive-through penalty
- Next report: Black flag.
So how will this affect track days?
Well the main reasons for stopping drivers deliberately putting wheels on the grass so far as this is relevant to track days are –
Safety becomes an issue if the grassed areas become rutted and grip on the grass is pretty much non-existent. Also driving on kerbs can throw the car out of balance. Both these factors can and do lead to accidents.
Then there is the cost aspect where the circuit operator has to maintain safe driving conditions and this means expenditure to repair damaged track margins pushing up circuit maintenance budgets and thus the costs to competitors and track day enthusiasts alike.
We are already asking customers to keep within the white lines and off the kerbs at our track days, and it’s normally not a problem. There is no need whatsoever to need to use more than the black stuff on a track day either. So if we spot an over-enthusiastic customer in the future using the grass we’ll be have a quick word, and may impose a track day version of a drive through penalty for repeat offences.