Several drivers in the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup paddock are expecting more chances for time to be gained and lost on pit lane with crews at the Nürburgring now able to compete during tire changes.
For the 3 Hours of Imola, which opened the Endurance Cup season in July, full-service pit stops were mandated under a minimum time from the start of pit lane to pit exit.
This was because not all cars had fuel sensors installed, but now the whole field is in place to adopt the minimum refuel time regulation that was planned out for the season.
At the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring, cars must only adhere to a minimum refueling time, which has been set at 37 seconds for a full service ‘mandatory’ stop. There is also a 10-second maximum refueling time for a strategic ‘short’ stop.
This means that tire changes have become a race between pit crews rather than falling under a blanket minimum pit time.
There is consensus among drivers that the rules update, combined with the extra stops required for a six-hour race compared to a three-hour, will add excitement and pressure.
“Teams can gain and lose a lot with tire changes now,” Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini driver Ricardo Feller told Sportscar365.
“We have less stress at the driver change pit stops, but the tire changes have to be on point.
“It’s always chaos in the pits in Endurance, so it’s important that you get the pit position perfect, and you also need some luck. You can’t be good enough on the tire changes, so we have to give everything there.
“We have more possibilities to play with the strategy when we have the short fuel option, maybe to go for some extra laps during a Full Course Yellow.”
Bentley factory driver Seb Morris, who is sharing the Pro-class CMR Bentley Continental GT3 with Nelson Panciatici and Pierre-Alexandre Jean, suggested that the lack of a minimum pit time will likely create more frantic action on pit lane.
“It’s a really good rule change,” said Morris, whose car is starting from 16th on the grid.
“Before when it was just the minimum pit time, it was becoming a bit of a joke because everyone would be sat there waiting for 30 seconds doing nothing, so it’s good that we’ve got the minimum fuel time.
“But then the team can really go at it [on tire changes]. It’s really nice for the teams to be able to show what they can do and there will soon be inter-team rivalries.
“We’ve got some ex-WRT crew members here and they’re really good, so we’ve got a good pit stop team I think.”
Ferrari’s Alessandro Pier Guidi echoed his fellow competitors’ thoughts and added that the open tire change policy is providing a welcome test to his AF Corse team’s pit crew.
“It will be more challenging for the teams,” the Italian told Sportscar365.
“It will be more or less the same time for refueling, and it will make the difference in who is the quickest changing the tires.
“It’s more or less as the FIA World Endurance Championship is and it’s more interesting than before. The guys have to train and it’s challenging for them.”