The number of places where track limits will be enforced during the Total 24 Hours of Spa has been increased before the race following concerns over safety from drivers.
In the sessions leading up to the Belgian enduro, which starts at 3:30 pm. local time today, track limits were only governed at Turn 3 (Raidillon) because not enough judges were present to spot potential offences.
This enabled drivers to exceed track limits around the rest of the 4.35-mile course, most notably at the exit of the Turn 9 left-hander after Bruxelles and at the exit of Bus Stop where cars were seen running right out to the barrier at the edge of the run-off.
A meeting was held by the race officials from SRO Motorsports Group on Friday evening to address driver concerns that the ultra-wide lines were increasing the risk of incidents.
SRO issued a bulletin on Saturday morning confirming that track limits will be implemented around the whole circuit during the race and not only at Raidillon.
The bulletin read: “The tolerance given to the track limits regulations, due to the COVID-19 situation, were abused exaggeratedly by most of the drivers.
“In these corners we are now facing safety issues because the drains are not made to resist.”
The bulletin, which was signed off by race director Alain Adam, went on to state that “the track is limited by two white lines” while the red and yellow curbs at Raidillon, Turn 9, Blanchimont and the exit of Bus Stop will be included in this definition.
“In all other turns cars must remain in contact with the track,” it confirmed.
Nine judges of fact were initially brought in to observe track limits, while an additional 11 referees from the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium have been introduced for the race.
The original track limit rules brought widespread criticism from the drivers, while Saturday’s update has generally been met positively despite its arrival late in the event.
“When we had the rules that there are no track limits, everyone went to the maximum,” KCMG Porsche driver and defending race winner Richard Lietz told Sportscar365.
“We had some very close moments. First of all with the tire walls, and also when there was a puncture on some cars.
“They were really off the normal racing line to go slowly back to the pits, but then they had people exiting track limits trying to do a very good lap by using the allowed racing line.
“They put the car that was off the racing line in very big danger because they were going 40 km/h and [the faster cars] arrived at 200 km/h. All this made it a bit dangerous.
“‘Now we have a new rule and we have to get used to it during the race. We have to find out in the race what is possible or not.
“It’s better like this now, but I would have preferred this from the beginning of the event.”
Three track limit warnings are allowed before a drive-through penalty is imposed.
A car’s track limit infringement warning count will be reset to zero after each drive-through and at the six, 12 and 18-hour marks of the race.