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New Safety Car Procedure, Slow Zones for Le Mans Revealed

ACO to implement “slow zones” to reduce safety car periods in Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

There will be considerable changes to the safety car procedures in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as adjustments to regular-season FIA World Endurance Championship rounds, with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest set to introduce a new procedure aimed to cut down on the amount of full-course cautions.

The French organizers revealed plans Friday for a new “slow zone” procedure, where only one section of the 8.5-mile circuit would be put under caution. However, unlike local yellows, cars would be not be allowed to exceed 60 kph in the designated zone.

A similar system, named “Code 60”,  has been used in the 24 Hours of Dubai, where all cars immediately slow to 60 kph and retain their relative positions on track, eliminating the need of a safety car.

The ACO’s proposed system, however, will still see the use of safety cars for larger accidents that would require the entire circuit to be neutralized.

While this process would only be used at Le Mans, there will also be changes to the conventional full-course caution procedure in the FIA WEC next year, with the race director now authorized to allow wave-arounds.

The system, which allows cars that were caught behind the safety car on the tail end of a lap to regain their position, has been successfully used in American racing.

The ACO also confirmed Friday that safety improvements will be made to the Tetre Rouge and Corvette corners of Circuit de la Sarthe, in the wake of Allan Simonsen’s death in this year’s race.

Additionally, a half-day simulation training course will become mandatory for any rookie driver or those who have not raced at Le Mans in the past five years.

More details on the safety improvements will be made on Feb. 13 during the annual ACO press conference to unveil the entry lists for the FIA WEC and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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

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