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WEC Poised for Revised Pit Stop Regulations

Tire changes set to be permitted while during refueling in FIA World Endurance Championship next season…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Tire changes are set to be allowed during refueling in the FIA World Endurance Championship next season, as part of changes likely to be made to the pit stop regulations for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season.’

Sportscar365 has learned that plans are in place for revisions to the current procedure, which prohibits work being done to the car, other than a driver change, during refueling.

The change, already adopted by the FIA and ACO and communicated to teams earlier this month, would essentially bring the WEC in line with the current pit stop rules in IMSA, which have been used since 2014.

Details, such as the number of permitted air guns, refueling while the engine is running and potential wheel spin, however, are understood to still be open for discussion.

ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil declined to comment when asked about the changes, which are subject to final approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

“It’s good to continually evolve, isn’t it?” Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw told Sportscar365. “New things, new challenges, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Gaw said a combined stop would be safer, as crews wouldn’t be forced to rush the tire changes, as the FIA and ACO has restricted refueling times to 35 seconds for GTE-Pro cars.

“The guys get injured a lot trying to do [tire changes] in like 13 seconds, whereas they’ll not have to do that any more,” he said. “It’ll take an element of competition out, won’t it, from that perspective?

“But there’ll be plenty of new stuff that’ll be coming next year as well. I just wish they’d let us do burnouts on exit as well.”

Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell, however, feels it could pose a greater safety risk for crews, with the car on the air jacks during refueling.

“The reason always given for separating the fueling from the tire change was that if there was a fuel drama, at least you could push the car away,” he told Sportscar365.

“If you can’t get near it to put wheels on it, you’re screwed. So you’d have fire, with your fuel rig, right in the garage and nothing you can do.

“The guys also don’t like it because it’s taking away the last bit of competition for the mechanics.”

It’s unclear if engines will be required to be shut off during refueling, as is the case now.

“Fundamentally, it’s much better for the reliability of the car if you don’t have to turn the engine and off and have to gently drag the clutch to get the thing out of the pits,” said Jota Sport team director Sam Hignett.

“It’s better for the spectacle that we need. We need that in the pit lane.

“We should do everything together. It should be engine running, fuel, tires, like it is in America. We should be allowed to wheel spin out of the pits.”

Tire Limitations Set to Remain Unchanged

The difference between IMSA and the WEC that’s expected to remain, however, is tire allocation, with LMP1, LMP2 and GTE-Pro teams limited to only four sets of tires, plus two jokers, in a six-hour race, which forces teams to double stint.

“Double stinting on one hand but changing tires during the same time as refueling. What’s the sense behind it?” said Porsche GT factory motorsports director Marco Ujhasi.

“But we are open and used to both, so we would take it like it is.”

Final confirmation on the changes are expected at the next WMSC meeting on Dec. 6.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Steven

    November 18, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Lame….The current pitstop rules creates good strategy for the race and has the rules of modern day vehicles. The cars should be shut off when pitting. That’s the whole point of endurance racing is to push the every part of the car to the boundaries.

  2. Chase

    November 18, 2017 at 8:21 am

    “Safer”? What’s safer than a bunch of guys running around a blistering hot car being refueled that’s also running? Am I right?

    • random

      November 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      What running? Have you seen IMSA tyre changes? They just nonchalantly change the tyres with no stress required. It looks like their slacking off, but since they’re not costing any time…it doesn’t matter.

      Too bad if WEC does the same thing. It’s another competitive aspect that I enjoy watching.

      • tracer

        November 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        While I’m okay with this change overall, I too will miss the choreographed dance that we saw during the outgoing FIA tire change style.

      • Dan

        November 20, 2017 at 8:18 pm

        Thats the point, if they know they can screw up and it doesnt matter, that punishes the teams that practice hard to perfect pitstops, The ACO style pitstops make for interesting strategy and fun to watch them. What I and others dont like about imsa pitstops, is that they don’t let crews show off their skills and makes double stinting tires basically pointless, if it wont cost you more time to change tires, why double stint when you don’t absolutely have to. As for John Gaw’s saying the crew get hurt all the time, its kinda weird we have never heard about that before and now only from him.

        • tracer

          November 20, 2017 at 10:32 pm

          Yeah Gaw’s comment on injuries were the first I’ve ever seen on the topic. Surprised we hadn’t heard it before if injuries were a common occurrence.

          As for double stinting tires in IMSA, it’s been a non starter for the majority of the field due to the limited tire life of the Continental control tire. However, with Michelin supplying tires in 2019, I’d like to see limited tire allocations brought in for the IMSA enduros as we see in the WEC. The strategy element and see-saw performance swings the limited allocations provide has made the WEC events infinitely more interesting to watch over the entire race distance. It could have a similar if not bigger impact in IMSA enduros, as they are currently turning into full course caution lotteries that only get truly interesting in the last hour of the race.

  3. Michael

    November 20, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    How come we’ve not heard anything about mechanics safety at tyre changes before? If it’s that big of an issue for John Gaw then surely the solution is a minimum time for the tyre changes or even the whole pit stop?

  4. tracer

    November 20, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I’m totally on board with the change to the IMSA-style pit stop, as it’s a visually more exciting process to see the mechanics and the fuel rig guys all go straight to work as soon as the car goes up on the jacks. However, I echo the same safety concerns of others due to the handful of refueling fires we’ve seen over the last two seasons amongst the GTE camps. Don’t know why they seem to have periodic issues when GT3 does not, but it’s certainly something that needs to be looked at and addressed alongside this change.

    Finally, I like the FIA approach of a minimum refueling time for all entries in lieu of the constant struggle IMSA has with setting specific vehicle fuel flow rates and rigging heights. However, under no circumstance could I ever accept an adoption of minimal pit-in/out times ala SRO regs. That is by far the worst sporting reg idea I’ve seen adopted in my 20+ years of following sportscar racing.

    • Keith G

      November 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Coming from people who have never been over the wall. I hated when we had to refuel while the car was running and the tire changers running into me or a wheel behind me. Look at what happed in the Porsche pit this year. Total confusion because everyone was working at the same time during the fire and it was left to burn longer then it should have. Until you do this you have no clue.

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