Dispute over the Nordschleife regulations

Stefan Baldauf
Dispute about the Nordschleife regulations
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E everything could have ended so peacefully. Six days before Christmas, the German Motor Sport Association (DMSB) published its catalog of measures on the future of motorsport on the Nordschleife, around nine months after the VLN accident in which a spectator was killed. But what followed after that had little to do with the festival of love. For many team bosses, drivers and officials, the phones rang incessantly over the holidays.

At the other end, however, was not Aunt Hildegard, who wished a merry Christmas, but Nordschleife protagonists who vented their anger. The result: The newly founded community of interests long-distance Nürburgring (ILN) around Chief Olaf Manthey threatens to stay away from the first VLN race with over 100 vehicles if there is no dialogue with the DMSB.

Communication disaster at the Nürburgring

What sounds like mutiny has a complex history and is the result of some communications disaster. Anyone who analyzes the situation around the Nordschleife discussion quickly realizes that, as is so often the case in relationships, it fails due to a lack of exchange. But one after the other. Even before the DMSB announced its decisions, the driver's group, one of the four working groups that were founded after the accident, published its press release with the results of its work on December 8th.

Dirk Adorf and his colleagues Marc Lieb, Arno Klasen, Markus Oestreich and Altfrid Heger wanted to take a clear position and make transparent which measures they consider to be sensible. The background: Before the commission of experts began its work, critical voices warned the drivers' group not to allow themselves to be harnessed to the cart. The quintet came to the following conclusion: The Nordschleife permit should be reduced in bureaucracy, the validity should be five instead of two years and only necessary for VLN and 24h races and not for RCN or youngtimer events.

Code 60 is to be regulated in three stages in the future in order to reduce rear-end collisions: a simple yellow flag to announce, with flags waved in yellow at 120 km /h to reduce the speed, and depending on the situation, a yellow flag with additional code 60- Flag to dictate speed of 60. As a reminder: So far it caused confusion that when the Code 60 flag was shown, the speed limit was not 60, but only the next oneMarshals. In addition, target braking was very often the cause of rear-end collisions.

In addition, the driver's group spoke out in favor of using the e-learning tool it had developed for drivers and route safety, which provides for the drivers to be thoroughly checked on site in terms of regulations. The notification from the driver group concluded with the sentence: 'The driver group assumes that its recommendations will be adopted and implemented in the DMSB regulations in unchanged and unchanged form as expected.' The calculation was made without the DMSB. In addition to technical modifications for top vehicles, new safety zones and the removal of bumps and the ban on development tires, he also presented a revision of the Nordschleife permit and a new three-stage Code 60 regulation - but the latter without going into detail.

The special 'twist' on the ring

Where we would be at the first communication disaster. Because in the background the rumor mill was seething. The Motorsport Academy Nürburgring, which works closely with the DMSB, posted two photos on their Facebook page on December 2nd: 'Code 60 shoot completed - Thanks to Nürburgring, DMSB Staffel, Sportwarte and Rent4Ring GmbH & Co. KG. ' A message that made waves. The driver group drew several conclusions from this: There is a Code 60 decision that was not published. The footage suggests that its own e-learning tool is being developed.

The filmed Code 60 version looked like this: simply yellow flag to announce, yellow flag with Code 60 flag at 120 km /h and then at the next post, double yellow flag with 60 km /h . 'At that point everything fell out of my face,' says Dirk Adorf, head of the driver group. 'In this phase we tried to contact the DMSB, but got no answers.'

Three days earlier, the marshals' section leaders voted on the proposal of the driver group for Code 60. However, after one and a half hours of discussion, the 18 section heads and their deputies rated the drivers' idea as not feasible - although Adorf has since received the assessment that it is practicable.

The fact is: a solution has to be found that is logical and safe for both marshals and drivers. The DMSB has not yet officially announced what the Code 60 handling should look like. The reason: 'The formulation of these details lies with the office and has not yet been completed - as is customary at this time of the season. What is certain is that the Code 60 regulation will be three-stage in the future - as proposed by the drivers' group , that will consist of advance warning, Tempo 120 and Tempo 60. The sports attendant of the route safety, which we in addition to the driver group in theHave involved the decision-making process. Which flag is shown when and what meaning it has, however, must be brought into line with the International Sports Act and the technical and communication options on site. Only at the end of this process are fully formulated regulations available. '

E-learning platform as a point of contention

Another thing that the drivers' group disliked: In the 24h race, a permit A is required for a vehicle in category B. That costs 26 euros more, although it is mandatory to complete three VLN races as qualification for the 24h race - which corresponds to a Permit A - but the variant Permit B plus three VLN races would also be possible.

The decision that the fully financed e-learning platform supported by Porsche should be replaced by a fee-based Platform of the DMSB Academy will be replaced. 'The tool proposed by the drivers has many interesting aspects that we will include, but cannot be used by an independent association for two reasons: On the one hand, we as DMSB cannot use one that is paid for by Porsche and that is accordingly promotional marked use the te platform ', says DMSB President Hans-Joachim Stuck.

Just as a side note: At the FIA ​​WEC races, Stuck regularly strolls through the paddock in Porsche outfit as a VW motorsport representative. Stuck continues: 'On the other hand, film sequences are shown there in which the question of moving image rights and the rights to one's own image have not been clarified. As an association of all German motorsport enthusiasts, we do not want to expose individual drivers by showing their personal driving errors via video.' /p>

Are there any commercial interests?

However, the driver group and the VLN have confirmed that the image rights are clarified. The VLN is the rights holder of the onboard recordings. According to Adorf, drivers cannot be identified in the video sequences. Rather, the assumption is making the rounds that the DMSB wants to have the e-learning tool produced from scratch by the Motorsport Academy Nürburgring. Strange coincidence: Its head, Christopher Bartz, who was once appointed to the driver's group by the DMSB, left it at the request of the other members because he was believed to have commercial interests.

Another point of contention: Upon request from sport auto , the DMSB confirms that the e-learning exam can be taken at home. This is not only against the driver's committee, but also VLN boss Karl Mauer. 'There is a risk that teams will let the secretary do the test for Paydriver, for example. Code 60 is the core of every driver briefing, but it will always behave incorrectly. So you would be forced to prepare and deal with it. The test on site is not easy to implement, but doable. '

TheThe suggestion that the participants take the test online under supervision in the huge press center with their own laptop therefore sounds plausible. A random replay of the questions would give tricksters no chance. The uprising of the driver group did not only meet supporters. It also produced critical voices. They complained that it would be arrogant to expect that the proposals would be adopted 1: 1.

DMSB President Stuck shot sharply after the driver group was 'disappointed' in a press release. 'If participants in a working group complain in retrospect that their suggestions were not implemented 100 percent, then we consider that a memorable understanding of committee work', says Stuck. 'Anyone who is offended afterwards because not all of their suggestions have made their way into the final decision should better not get involved in democratic processes.'

Dissent or just banter?

If you consider that the DMSB itself set up this committee and the decisions were made in-house, the argumentation seems very surprising. Dirk Adorf tries to make it clear: 'We weren't brushed for a riot, we tried to find a consensus. We asked for an appointment, but didn't get one - and finally saw the Facebook post.'

The deviations from the recommendations of the driver group only concern details in some points, but make a big difference for the Nordschleife experts. 'If you hire five fashion designers, each one makes his own design. If you take off one person's shoes, the other's shirt and then the other's pants, you end up with just one clown,' says Adorf.

Of course, Stuck sees it a little differently: 'Perhaps we should like to point out again at this point that the aim of the working groups was to get as much input as possible from everyone involved. We succeeded, and Without any harassment on the Nordschleife and without banning the GT3 vehicles. That should be the focus and not on petty banter about detailed requests from the AG participants. '

This is where the second communications meltdown is revealed. While the drivers' voluntary work was about improving safety on the Nordschleife in general and across all classes, the DMSB seemed to focus on ensuring the preservation of the GT3 vehicles and avoiding harassment. This creates the impression that the new measures are being used to some extent to legitimize hasty decisions such as the speed limit devised by DMSB managing director Christian Schacht. The opportunity to improve security as a whole seems to have been missed. 'Sometimes I lack my heart when making decisions,' says Dirk Adorf.

Interest groupLong distance Nürburgring emerges

A thesis that Olaf Manthey can endorse. When he followed the exchange of blows between the DMSB and the driver group, his collar burst. Over Christmas he played halali. He researched the email addresses of 76 teams and wrote to them on December 23rd. Following the call of the Nordschleife druid with the white beard, 44 team bosses made a pilgrimage to the Frikadelli Racing Western Saloon in Barweiler on December 29th and formed the Nürburgring Long Distance Interest Group (ILG). This is intended to represent the interests of the teams and backs up the suggestions of the driver group.

'The VLN and the 24h race are not manufacturer series like the WEC, but rather shaped by the teams. And the manufacturers are dependent on the teams, 'says Manthey. More than 94 vehicles (including Manthey Racing, Frikadelli Racing, Black Falcon, Car Collection and Jürgen Alzen Racing) were signed, which ultimately will not take part in the first and possibly also not in further VLN races, should no agreement be reached the DMSB on the hot topic of the Nordschleife permit, the associated e-learning and the modification of the Code 60 regulation - others contacted us by phone and agreed.

Delicate: The VLN and the organizer of the 24h race, the ADAC Nordrhein, joined the movement. 'It is in our interest that the teams drive with us and that no cars are missing. Otherwise we will be the victims in the end,' says VLN boss Karl Mauer. According to the interest group, the ban on development tires must also be discussed. Manthey points out that the so-called vignette tires are safety-relevant. 'The tire manufacturers build tires for all tracks in the world. But they may not be able to withstand the special loads on the Nordschleife. That's why they are testing it out. This option is now being denied. This can still go well in 2016 because they are successors to the development tires . By 2017 at the latest, the DMSB would have to explain if there were problems with the tires. '

For Manthey, the ban on development tires is just one of many decisions that shows that there is a lack of foresight: 'For me, there are no people at the DMSB who have the specialist knowledge and the necessary expertise for the special topography of the Nordschleife and the variety of vehicles in this series have. '

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