2018 Rule Update/Change Explanations
The Rules Committee made some minor tweaks to the rules for 2018 and just like last year we wanted to explain the changes to maximize understanding going into the new season. The changes are either for safety reasons or are designed to keep WRL’s mix of competitive and cost effective racing intact while allowing for the widest range of cars possible. Here’s what’s new:
Other Committee Ramblings:
- Appendix B has been completely reorganized for clarity. Teams may now class by dyno or factory HP.
While factory HP is still the preferred method for many due to simplicity and lower cost, dyno evidence can now be used for classing as an option for cars where teams or WRL officials feel it is more accurate or appropriate.
Why the split system?
The original system using factory HP ratings strikes a really good balance between “easy” and “accurate”. We’ve discussed going to a dyno model since that improves accuracy (but at the cost of “easy”) but for various reasons we don’t feel this is the right time for a wholesale change.
Still, we recognize that some teams are running 100K-mile stock engines that may be down on power against teams that can afford to rebuild motors as-needed. We’ll always be battling the specter of “checkbook racing” and don’t want the “garage hobbyist” to be at an unfair disadvantage to the shops and pro cars, so instead of forcing teams to spend more money on rebuilding motors every year to be at the top of their class, we’re giving them the opportunity to show that they belong in a different class. Teams at the bottom half of the PWR range in their class now have the option to upgrade their car, OR, they can use actual power output (and perhaps ballast) to legitimately move down a class and compete.
Note that this works the other way as well. WRL may demand dyno results for cars that are outliers in their class, and teams that have cars that are routinely competitive for a podium in a higher class should expect that they will be required to provide a dyno sheet in order to continue racing with WRL.
So what’s up with the 1.07 multiplier on dyno results?
7% was used as a ‘modifier’ for converting whp (wheel horsepower) from a dyno to SAE hp as provided in factory specifications. 15% is a typical conversion factor for this, but 7% was determined to be a more accurate WRL number meant to account for ‘free’ BPM modifications which do increase whp vs what each car rolled off the line with. This dyno conversion factor is not final until Jan 1 2018 and will be monitored and adjusted as-needed
- Teams may voluntarily add ballast (with restrictions) – We understand that not all cars fall in a ‘favorable’ portion of their class PWR range and that lightening or adding horsepower to reach the pointy end can both be costly/difficult options. In order to allow a cheap/simple option for being competitive, we’ve opted to allow a nominal amount of ballast without prior approval. With this there’s a modifier to be applied which is designed to prevent teams from ballasting precisely to the class limit. Ballast must be disclosed to officials and must be properly secure in the passenger footwell.
- Fuel cell capacities must be clearly marked at fuel port
Since WRL allows cars built for so many other series, we have a few cars showing up at tech with fuel cells in excess of the existing capacity limit (within 15% of stock capacity) creating some obvious headaches in contrast to teams with stock tanks and legal capacity cells. We’re requiring these “over-capacity” cars be marked clearly on the car so that other teams and pit stewards can more easily monitor the amount of fuel being dumped in the car on pit stops to help with enforcement. Expect that we will continue to work on ways to address this.
- Team must complete 50% of class leader lap count to score official finish (dropped requirement to take checkered) – Pretty straightforward but essentially meant to prevent situations where a small class field could result in a team running 5 laps at the beginning of the race and 5 at the end beating out a team who ran all day but broke on the last lap to the point of not taking the checkered flag.
- Clarification to cage rules regarding attachment points – Not a change, just a clarification. Previous wording was a bit misleading, it could lead teams to think it’s okay to run back stays to a cross tube which is not okay. Don’t do that, unsupported loads are bad.
- Width extents added for body and tires – As much as we all love big aero and meaty tires bulging out of fenders, these can be a safety hazard to competitors and officials if overdone. On body extents, the main concern is that aero sticking far beyond the body width can pose a risk to race officials and crew in the pits. Tire protrusion has known risks where tire-to-tire contact can send cars airborne/rolling which is less than ideal. Nothing extreme here, just common-sense guidelines to keep things as safe as possible.
Tires – We’re continuing to watch the 180-200TW tire war evolve but opted not to make updates to the tire rule at this point. Current tire offerings continue to stress the rules as teams opt to run ‘soft’ options that simply do not last in endurance racing, compared to the many available options which last much longer. The tire change rules implemented for 2017 do seem to have helped offset the benefit of these tires, but there’s still been a slight increase observed in their use. Controlling run costs is a significant concern for WRL so we do take this seriously and will continue to monitor tire usage and consider ways to temper the benefit of these tires without resorting to banning specific tire models. In the meantime, run tires that last more than 4 hours, your budget and wheel bearings will thank you.
Fuel Cells (continued) - Fuel cells were designed for speciality applications where a stock tank never existed (tube-frame cars) and work well where the stock fuel tank was not safe (like the fabled Pinto) - ASSUMING that they are properly installed, plumbed and protected. Simply dropping a cell into the back of a car does not make it any safer, and we’ve failed a couple of cars at Tech due to safety issues with their installation. It doesn’t matter if someone else’s tech guy passed it, if we see a safety issue it won’t fly with us, period. Additionally, some installations raised the car’s center of gravity - why would you do that to a race car?
We HIGHLY recommend that you refrain from installing cells unless there are compelling safety reasons. In most production cars the factory tank is engineered by professionals in the safest possible location and configuration. Trying to ‘one up’ the guys that design cars for a living to meet stringent safety requirements is futile. We don’t want teams feeling that they NEED to have a fuel cell to compete which is one reason for the +15% restriction and we’ll continue to review options for cars that show up with excessive fuel capacity. For 2018, we want all teams to see exactly how much fuel an over-capacity cell is allowed to take on during a stop.
Solutions for dealing with over-capacity cells that we’re considering for the future include:
A smaller filler hose restriction (Smaller than 1” ID) for cars with excess capacity
Time/Lap Penalty to be served on pit road based on amount over capacity
Mandating a specific number of pit stops for these cars
Minimum Age for Drivers - We are reviewing the 16 y/o limit for drivers who possess a current comp license from NASA, SCCA, FIA, etc. We don’t know if there is enough demand under 16 to warrant a change but there has been enough to at least look into it.
AND ONE FINAL NOTE FROM THE COMMISH - People are putting too much fuel on the ground, and fuel destroys the pavement (Asphalt). It’s also a bit unnerving to have your windshield splashed with fuel from the car ahead at 100mph. Why are you cramming in an extra 1/2 gallon of fuel only to spread 1 gallon all over the track for the 3 laps after leaving pits? Seems a bit counter-productive. This isn’t rocket science gang, nor is it expensive. Take some time this off season to fix your vents, fix your jugs, get the proper catch pan, and take an extra few SECONDS to complete a safe, clean fuel stop next year. Or spend a few MINUTES with us at Black Flag and maybe get a bill for asphalt damage.