Supercars changes lapped car restart rule

Supercars has changed its restart rules concerning lapped cars pic: Ross Gibb

Supercars has changed its regulations to ensure that all lapped cars are sent to the back of the queue at late-race Safety Car restarts.

Under a new rule to be introduced from the Superloop Adelaide 500, any lapped car circulating in front of a car which is on the lead lap will have to drive through the pit lane before or at the restart, if the Safety Car is called within eight laps of the finish or within 10 minutes of the time-certain finish.

At all other times, only cars which are two or more laps down will be required to drive through the pit lane if necessary to ensure that they are not in front of a car less than two laps down.

The effect of the new rule is to ensure that the cars which are on the lead lap are not obstructed by lapped cars when a race restarts with a small number of laps remaining.

Under the 2018 regulations, the threshold was two laps down for the entire race, as follows in Division D of the Operations Manual:

D10.2.13 Prior to the lead Car crossing the Control Line at the end of a SC deployment, or on the restart lap, any Car that is two (2) or more laps behind the lead Car must reposition itself by driving through the Pit Lane so that it is not in front of any Car that is less than two (2) laps behind the lead Car.

The rule has been modified by adding a subclause which has been included in this weekend’s Further Supplementary Regulations, due to the Operations Manual having not been updated since the last Supercars Commission meeting, as follows:

D10.2.13.1 Should the SC be deployed eight (8) laps or less from the last lap of a race , or ten (10) minutes prior to the time certain finish time of a race as published in the Supplementary Regulations, any Car that is one (1) or more laps behind the leader must reposition itself by driving through the Pit Lane so that it is not in front of any Car that is on the lead lap.

Mark Winterbottom had called for such a rule after he was held up by lapped cars following a restart with two laps remaining in the Saturday race at Townsville in 2016, when he was third to Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen.

There have also been multiple rule changes for 2019 concerning pit stops, after twin controversies involving Shane van Gisbergen in the last two events of the 2018 season.

Drivers are now compelled to engage the line locker to ensure the car’s rear wheels do not spin when the car is jacked up during a pit stop, while the possible loophole which Triple Eight attempted to exploit regarding lowering the car when the fuel nozzle is still attached has been closed.

Again, the former is officially regulated for the first time in the Further Supplementary Regulations, as follows:

D11.8.8 During any Pit Stop, from the time the Car leaves the ground until the time the Car has returned to the ground, the brake lock mechanism must be engaged so as the rear wheels do not rotate without the prior approval of the HoM.

D11.8.8.1 Where the HoM grants such approval, the rear wheels must stop rotating prior to the Car being lowered to the ground. For the sake of clarity, the rear wheels must not be rotating while the Car is being lowered to the ground.

D11.8.8.2 During any Pit Stop, a slight movement of the rear wheels will not, at the sole discretion of the HoM, constitute the rear wheels rotating.

Another rule changes requires that the tyres which are to be fitted to a car on the fast lane side of the pit lane must be located between the axle centre lines of the car when it pits in a bid to reduce the propensity for tyres to be struck by cars entering or exiting adjacent pit bays.

The rule does not apply at Bathurst or the Gold Coast.

Furthermore, Sunday pit stop practice has been banned from the Phillip Island event (Event 4) onwards for reasons of pit crew rest and cost, according to Supercars’ official website.

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is first on track for Practice 1 tomorrow afternoon at 1730 local time/1800 AEDT.

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