In a highly anticipated move, the Supercars series initiated a trial of a speed limiter system, set at 120 km/h, during the opening practice session at Hidden Valley. The Red Bull Camaro, driven by Shane van Gisbergen, was equipped with the system as a test run.
The initial plan was to evaluate the system’s performance on van Gisbergen’s #97 car during practice 1, with the intention of expanding the trial to other vehicles for a more comprehensive assessment after practice 2.
However, the outcome was far from satisfactory, as the system wreaked havoc on van Gisbergen’s session, constraining his car to a mere 120 km/h for a staggering 18 minutes out of the half-hour session.
Supercars has chosen to remain tight-lipped regarding the system, considering the trial is still in its early stages.
According to F1 Flow.com, the objective behind this initiative is to develop a system that imposes a predetermined speed limit on drivers, requiring them to engage the limiter as soon as a safety car is deployed.
One immediate benefit of such a system would be the prevention of the current practice where drivers race at full speed to gain track position, often exceeding the speed limit near the incident that prompted the caution.
Moreover, it could potentially function as a virtual safety car, similar to what is seen in Formula 1.
However, the specifics of implementation have yet to be determined, with the primary focus currently on ensuring the proper functionality of the limiter.
Mark Dutton, the team manager for Triple Eight, expressed his displeasure at the loss of valuable track time for van Gisbergen during the session but took responsibility for offering him as a test subject for Supercars.
“Our intention was to assist Supercars in their pursuit of future safety improvements,” explained Dutton.
“Launching a safety car requires time to slow down the field. This test was conducted to check the functionality of the safety car limiter. It was not the refined version; it was simply a test to enable the activation of this safety car speed limit.”
“Unfortunately, it cost us dearly, essentially ruining our session. Van Gisbergen was limited to 120 km/h, making it impossible to achieve a competitive lap time.”
“The crew lost valuable time, and all the preparation and buildup were rendered futile. Now we’re in damage control mode, trying to salvage some learning from this experience. We will work diligently to ensure this setback does not have a lasting impact on the rest of the weekend.”
“With such short sessions and a tightly contested field, incidents like these are simply not affordable.”
“Ultimately, this mistake falls on me as the team manager. I should have refused and suggested conducting this test on a separate test day. We tried to be accommodating and assist the category. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an exceedingly costly lesson today.”
Dutton believes that today’s ordeal demonstrates that there is still a substantial amount of work required before this system can be formally implemented.
“The system needs refinement and must prove its reliability first,” Dutton stated.
“A significant number of intelligent individuals from MoTec, Supercars, and even our own team members who were involved believed it would function correctly. However, that was not the case.”
“It would be premature to establish any specific timeline at this point. Additionally, introducing new elements midway through the season necessitates caution.”
“Having said that, if we can fine-tune and perfect it, any safety enhancement should be implemented as soon as possible. That’s precisely why we were motivated to contribute to this endeavor—because it revolves around safety.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about safety implementation
What was the purpose of the Supercars VSC test with the speed limiter system?
The purpose of the Supercars VSC test was to evaluate the performance and functionality of a speed limiter system set at 120 km/h. The trial aimed to assess its potential for improving safety by preventing drivers from racing at full speed to gain track position during caution periods.
What were the outcomes of the test on Shane van Gisbergen’s car?
During the test, Shane van Gisbergen’s car was limited to 120 km/h for a significant portion of the session, resulting in a loss of valuable track time. The system caused disruption and made it challenging for van Gisbergen to achieve competitive lap times.
How does the speed limiter system contribute to safety in Supercars?
The speed limiter system is intended to address safety concerns by imposing a set speed limit on drivers during caution periods. This prevents them from exceeding the speed limit near incidents, enhances safety during safety car deployments, and could potentially be used as a virtual safety car.
Will the speed limiter system be implemented in Supercars soon?
The implementation of the speed limiter system is still in its early stages, and there is no specific timeline for its formal introduction. The recent test revealed the need for further refinement and ensuring its reliability. Safety improvements are a priority, but careful consideration is required before introducing new elements mid-season.
Who is responsible for the test and its consequences?
The Triple Eight team manager, Mark Dutton, took responsibility for allowing Shane van Gisbergen to participate in the test as a guinea pig. He acknowledged that it was a mistake on his part and expressed regret for the loss of track time and the negative impact on the team’s session. The team’s intention was to assist Supercars in improving safety measures.