Rocky II and final 24hr turned out to be a decidedly interesting weekend, for some of the right reasons, and for some less so. Overall, the racing was some of the best that we have seen so far, and it was great to see some new teams out there. We were blessed with near perfect weather and the new track layout seemed to be preferred by almost everyone. We shall miss Rocky, it’s a great venue and the facilities were excellent for what C1 Racing needs.
This is one on which everyone is going to have an opinion; and on which our ability to comment until the appeal process is completed is severely restricted. Two cars were disqualified from the 24-hour race; and one car from the 3-hour race as a result of having been found with their fire extinguisher pins being in when checked in parc fermé.
Such a decision is inconsistent with the decision taken the previous weekend when one of the Touring Cars at Knockhill was found in the same state in a properly-policed parc fermé; but was only fined. Both competitors in the 24-hour are appealing this decision; and that appeal is fully-supported by the Club. We also understand that there is a further appeal pending. We are not able to comment further at this stage.
Penalties turned out to be something of a feature of the weekend. Some took it in good humour, some less so. They are there for a reason, though. There is little point in having a set of regulations, if some people don’t abide by them; and some do. We have implemented fixed and written penalties, which escalate on repeat offenders, so that there is consistency between Clerks and circuits.
Four directors run the club; and at each event, we try to have at least two of us acting as DSOs around the circuit at all times, much of the time, we have three of us. As far as we are aware, no other club goes to such lengths to ensure a level playing field and fair racing. For much of the 24-hour race, we had three of us acting as DSOs: one in the pit lane monitoring pit lane speeds; and two out around the circuit monitoring driving standards. Even in the early hours, there was always one of us acting as DSO out around the circuit or in the pit lane.
At some of the corners we monitored, there was nothing to report: for example, monitoring Yentwood and Tarzan in the first two hours of the 24-hour race saw no accidents and no track limit transgressions; so we moved to a different place. Other corners, however, saw a significant number of material transgressions and so we focused on those points; we reported them to the Clerk of the Course, who in turn decided whether to apply a penalty or not.
For the last 8 hours of the 24-hour race, it was clear that competitors were increasingly breaking track limits at the chicane in front of the pits. Even though we only reported the most egregious and repeated breaches, the frequency of breaches grew as the race progressed; to such an extent that a number of the rubber protection mats beyond the two blue and white kerbs were thrown around by cars; and had to be recovered by marshals during safety car periods.
In total well over a dozen cars were reported for breaching track limits; including one that was reported three times over the course of the race; and three who were reported twice. We don’t want to have to do this; but it’s impossible to achieve a level playing field if some competitors don’t abide by the rules.
A similar number of cars were reported for speeding in the pit lane at speeds ranging from 34 kph to 52 kph. Rocky is unusual in that it has hot and cold pit lanes, which are a hangover from its Indy car roots. The hot pit lane doesn’t work very well for endurance racing, so we negotiated with Rocky, the MSA and BARC to be able to use the cold pit lane for our races.
The compromise was that we had to have, and to enforce, a 30 kph speed limit from the start of the pit lane (which was clearly marked with a white line and 30 signs at either end of it); to the end of the pit lane (which was clearly marked with a green light with an “end of 30” sign next to it). There were 8 repeater signs up the pit lane, which we installed and paid for. We covered this in both drivers’ briefings; and explained to any driver who was stopped for speeding in the pit lane (or team if we weren’t able to) what the limit was, why it was there and where it started and finished.
We will be back to the usual 60 kph speed limit in the pit lane at all the other circuits we race at from now on.
Drinking / Alcohol
The ugly head of drinking reared itself again at Rocky II. The Club has a very clear zero-tolerance policy for any driver or team member who touches the car in the pit lane. We were somewhat hobbled at Rocky II, since the Club breathalyser announced on arrival that it wanted to be calibrated and although we searched, we could not find any disposable breathalyser tubes locally. We have solved this by buying a second breathalyser and will have them calibrated alternately every three months, so that at no point could we be left in this position again.
We were alerted that members of a team were drinking during the race and so visited the garage. One driver had a bottle of beer in his hand, so we had a discussion with him and suggested that he handed his HuTag in. No one else in the garage was drinking at that point. We then reported the matter to the Clerk of the Course, who immediately sent the pit lane chief to that garage and removed the HuTag from that driver. Both we and the pit lane marshals visited that garage on a regular basis following this breach, but at no point after that was a driver or team member seen drinking; nor were we presented with any other evidence to that effect.
We have now published the Club Rules, which set out the Club policy on alcohol & drugs on the C1 Racing website. The penalty for any driver or team member’s drinking is that the team is excluded from the event; however, the Clerk was unable to impose that, as we did not have a functional breathalyser. Rest assured that with two operating breathalysers, we will never be in that position again; and we will be breathalysing drivers before they get in the car as well. It is also worth noting that a refusal to take a breathalyser test is treated as a failure.
Thank you all for your efforts on the weighing front. Although it takes time, the purpose of weighing and tagging all the cars is so that lighter drivers do not have an advantage. No system is perfect, since teams with some light and some heavy drivers will have a disadvantage over teams with drivers all about the same weight. It is, however, in our view, the fairest system.
From next season, we will be introducing different coloured tags at each race; and your car will not be able to pass scrutineering without the correct-coloured tag lock-wired to the car. We also intend to introduce Club ballast plates, which will have lock-wire holes pre-cut in them, which should make the process easier for those who want to use them.
There have been some comments on the forums about the Club’s running its own cars. We do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we need to test any components that we are going to introduce in full race conditions so as to ensure that they perform properly; secondly, we need to have seats available for the press (at Rocky II we had Stefan Mackley from Autosport in our car); thirdly, we are much more able to scrutineer from a technical perspective by running our own cars and understanding the cars better; and finally, it gives us a much better perspective on driving standards than we would get from solely standing by the side of the circuit.
It is commonplace for Series organisers to run cars in their own series, and we intend to continue so to do; and for the directors to continue to drive on occasion. We set this series up so that we are able to race in the way in which we wanted to; in a not-for-profit company, from which we are unable to pay ourselves. However, if you have serious concerns about the Club cars, please write to our chairman, Meyrick on email@example.com setting out in detail what your concerns are.
On a lighter note, we are all looking forward to Croft. Not only do we have a full grid for the enduro on Sunday, we are also trying out the sprint format on the Saturday; and we can’t wait to see how it goes.
There will be a further newsletter with the administrative points for Croft nearer the event.
Thank you to all of you who completed the Club survey, we really do appreciate it; and it means that we can organize what you want, rather than making it all up. So far, we have had 267 replies, which is approximately 25% of those to whom it was sent out. Here are the key points which came out of it:
Over 130 of you would like to do sprints, marginally more on a different, rather than the same, weekend. A clear majority wanted heats and finals of a 20-minute duration, so that’s what we’ll trial next season.
The five most popular circuits for sprints are Donington, Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Silverstone, Oulton; and the least popular five are: Knockhill, Pembrey, Anglesey, Thruxton and Croft.
Watch this space!
The most popular programme is for 4 enduros, so we will continue with that.
The five most popular circuits for enduros are: Donington (by a clear margin), Silverstone, Snetterton, Oulton and Brands. Least popular are Knockhill, Pembrey, Mallory, Anglesey and Thruxton. Cadwell is no longer really feasible given the poor facilities and pit area there.
We had to love the 23 people who would enter as may 24-hour races as we put on, but over 110 would enter one 24hr; and over 50 would enter two 24 hours. There was a mild preference for exclusive testing; about half wanted the costs included, half were happy to pay more for it. There was no stand out month in which you wanted 24hrs to be held; although a small majority would prefer it on a bank holiday weekend to not.
The most popular three circuits were Silverstone, Snetterton and Anglesey, with Knockhill and Mondello at the bottom. In practice, we are going to have to be driven by the facilities that are available at each circuit to some extent.
Thank you again for filling it in; it really will make a difference to what we put on next season.
The C1 Racing Team