The monitoring of all radio transmissions made during an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race has been “manageable” according to IMSA technical chief Geoff Carter, who feels confident in the new system and regulations put in place to combat Balance of Performance manipulation.
Introduced last month ahead of the GT-only round at Virginia International Raceway, IMSA has updated its sporting regulations to prohibit teams from using “codes, ciphers, disguised, misleading or otherwise secretive language” on radio transmissions to attempt to influence the BoP process by manipulating performance in races.
It’s understood at least one leading team was found to be using codes to its driver to control the car’s pace at Road America, prior to the introduction of the rule, which can now lead to penalties.
While there had been questions over how IMSA could enforce the rule by the sheer amount of radio chatter over the course of a race, Carter said he feels the IMSA technical team has been already able to successfully manage the task.
“We recorded all the radio transmissions from VIR,” Carter told Sportscar365.
“We logged them straight into the computer. If you think of it, a transmission is usually three or four or five seconds. It’s not 35 cars talking for two-and-a-half hours.
“I went back personally and listened to our whole file from VIR in the GT classes. I think it was almost two hours. If you think about that, it’s manageable.
“The notion that these guys chat all race for all race, two hours and 40 minutes, isn’t the reality.”
Carter said IMSA is specifically looking for language that could possibly influence the car’s pace.
“If people are talking about fuel management or pit strategies or tires, that’s one thing. But we found some other pretty blatant [things] in the past,” he said.
“We’ve always scanned, but now we’ve got a log where we can go back and flag the data.
“So if we hear a transmission that we don’t like, we will open the data and go back and say, ‘What does Red 5 do? Or what is Engine Map 4?’ We’ll see the direct response, if it’s a lambda change or a fuel flow change.”
While nothing stood out to IMSA in its post-race analysis from VIR, Carter said they also monitor radio transmissions in real-time and use other mediums to keep an eye on what’s being said over the course of a race weekend.
“We always hear or see something, out the window, on the radio, and frankly you hear stuff in the press after the race,” he said.
“A driver will say this or that, and then you’ll go, ‘Wait a minute, let’s have a look at that.’ And then if it’s something, you’ll occasionally have a conversation with a team.
“If I hear something during the race and I don’t understand it, I’m going to go down to their timing stand and ask them to explain it.
“Usually it plays out to be nothing that’s earth-shattering.”
Carter: BoP Manipulation Penalties Setting a New Precedent
When asked about the scope of penalties teams could face if they were found to be manipulating performance, Carter said the precedent has not yet been set.
“It’s all very early for this,” he said. “The idea is to say we have a regulation and that’s now in place. We have a process that’s in place.
“What we don’t have at the moment is precedent. We don’t want to ruin anybody’s day.
“What we want at the end of the day is everybody to go out and race their car. We want the fans to get a good, genuine show. We want BoP to be a conversation you almost never have.
“When you go to a NFL football game, you don’t want to see one yellow flag, you don’t want to see any penalties. You just want them to go out and play.
“You want them to play within the rules and not have the penalties define the outcome of the game.
“For us, we just want these teams to go out and race their cars.
“We don’t want them to influence the BoP and we’re not interested in influencing the outcome of races. We just want everyone to have the same opportunity.”