April 7, 2015

Code 200: Virtual Chicanes for the Nurburgring 24


The Deutscher Motor Sport Bund, Germany's governing body for racing was in a pickle:  following the horrific crash of Jann Mardenborough's Nissan GT-R and the death of a spectator at the first VLN race of the season, it had issued a ban on all the faster classes, essentially everything from a Porsche 997 Cup on up.

That meant no Mercedes SLS, no Porsche RSR, no BMW Z4 GT3, no LFA, no Ferraris, no Audi R8, no Scuderia Gliekenhaus and, of course, no GT-Rs.

The 2015 24 hour race would have been a bust in the same year Germany failed to secure a Formula 1 race for the first time in many decades. Not good.

So here's the solution, temporary apparently, to save the race:  GPS monitored speed zones in areas ahead of the fastest points on the track:

Flugplatz : 200 kmh / 125 mph

Schwedenkreuz: 200 kmh

Antoniusbuche: 200 kmh

Döttinger Höhe: 250 kmh /155 mph

Why did they chose this solution is a practical one, it is a version of the "Code 60" system already in use in WEC and indeed at the Nürburgring for the 24 hour race.

The idea is that these zones will take the place of a chicane which there is no time to properly build.

Cars will be slowed down "several hundred" meters ahead of the fastest corners. They will  be released ahead of the turns but without the momentum they usually would have,  corner speeds will be lower.

Along with the speed restriction, there will be a 5% power reduction and better spectator control.

For the long term, there are no easy fixes.  You could put limits on aero but a VLN specific spec would make it extremely difficult to get guest entries for the big race.

Or you could build chicanes.  Not sure there is room for temporary chicanes on the Nordschleife.  Maybe on the Döttinger Höhe but probably not before Flugplatz and Schwedenkreuz.   Can you imagine the uproar if they changed the track?

One solution could be, if they find the space, to build a Le Mans type chicane where the original track can be preserved and used for slower events.  But with the Green Hell's trouble with greens, both people and bills, it's probably not so simple to chop and pave.

Press release HERE


  1. And in the end everyone gets a participation trophy?

  2. i'd take it! The trick though is running in something like X class, you are pretty much guaranteed a podium Delta Wing should try:)

  3. I think it's just down to physics. Group C cars got too fast for the Nordschleife, and now the GT3 cars are matching their speed.

  4. What about moving spectators away from potentially dangerous vantage points?

  5. The driver involved in the last crash (GT Academy's Jan Mardenborough) escaped mostly unharmed. The car did not catch fire. All RACING security measures worked. The only real problem is that public safety measures proved to be insufficient. And yet they addressed it like politicians and "civil" authorities do. Blame it on speed, enforce speed limits. Why stop there? Add some speed bumps in the "troublesome" areas while you're at it. It's that ludicrous. The goal of motor racing is to go as fast as you can. Being on the edge is a part of it. The risk is part of it.

    2nd measure, reduced engine power by 5%, mostly meaningless and will be overcome in a year.

    3rd a reference to "stricter access rules" for the public, well... it's damn hard to control or restrict access in the Nordschleife. So considering how important it is in the list of measures taken, and how hard the task is, nothing will be done to correct the real problem there. The spectators behaviour.

    What a pile of track ruining BS.

  6. There's an underlying issue of FIA certification, I'm sure. Don't be surprised if changes are made in short order.

  7. That Jann wasn't injured was luck of the circumstances. Ant Davidson broke his back at Le Mans when his car landed after he went airborne a few years ago.

    Every time a class of car starts taking off, the sanctioning body does something to keep them on the ground, and for very good reason.

  8. Cars can't take off, not in this way at least, I agree. Point is, it's not the track. Cars need to deal with the track, people need to attend in safety. Speed limits is idiotic.

  9. It's a temporary fix as stated in the article.


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