World Endurance Championship

Video: 'Slow zones' for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours

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    Keith Collantine

    One of the interesting rules changes at Le Mans this year is the introduction of ‘slow zones’ as a new safety measure. It is intended to reduce the number of full-course caution periods for accidents and barrier repairs.

    As an alternative to summoning the Safety Car, race control have the option of setting a ‘slow zone’ on part of the track where cars must not exceed 60kph (37mph). Cars will pass through the section on their pit lane speed limiter.

    Here’s Jon Lancaster explaining how it works from the driver’s point of view:

    They’re not kidding when they say “slow”! Here’s how it looks from outside the car:

    I think they’re doing the right thing by trying to find a way of cutting down on the number of Safety Car periods and will watch with interest to see how the new system works during the race.


    They sound as bad as F1 cars when they’re doing 60!
    How do they spot the Next Slow board in the dark or spray? Presumably radio or some in-car display is the primary warning to the drivers.

    And a potential safety issue discussed on Radio Le Mans the other night was that Le Mans newcomers (like Lancaster) all had to do a simulator session with the slow zones – but for drivers who’d raced there before it wasn’t compulsory…

    But it should cut down massively on lost time, and the field splitting, bunching and performing hairy restarts behind safety cars. I hope improvements have been made so they don’t spend hours welding and rebuilding barriers like last year.


    Sounds kind of dangerous if they have to slam on the brakes in the middle of a straight? Also, how do they enforce the speed limit, I thought they used some kind of radar in the pits to catch speeding but obviously they cant do that around the whole lap?


    I like the idea. The WEC suffers significantly in my opinion from too much time spent under SC conditions.


    I like the fact they are reducing the potential need of safety cars, but I think the Slow Zones to newcomers of the sport would make them lose interest quickly once they see it first-hand at the circuit, or at home with a bag(s) of potato crisps.


    I think they would benefit from increasing the speed of the “slow zones” since it does seem a little too slow, but on the whole it’s an excellent idea. Le Mans is such a huge track and this makes more sense than slowing them down around the whole 13km circuit, when only a small stretch of road could be affected. This is excellent work by the FIA, and it’s not often that I (or anyone, it seems) will say that.


    I thought of this idea for F1 when we’ve had that Safety Car debacle in Valencia a few years ago.

    Edit: I’m glad to see it being realized.

    Fer no.65

    Seems like a nice idea. Specially with a track so long. You can see racing even during “safety car” situations.

    But how do they know when to actually hit the brakes or accelerate?Because I see a couple of issues with people slamming on their brakes midway through a sector with people behind… do they have to pass the lights or just accelerate as soon as they see it?


    good solution, it will be interesting to see wether it works or not.


    It seems like a logical solution, particularly for a circuit which is so long. I suppose we will have to wait and see it in practice to establish if it works or not and if it can be effectively policed.


    @pezlo2013 So you’re saying a 2 hour safety car period is more appealing to new viewers?


    Since I wrote that enthusiastic reply late last night, I also became skeptical about how they would enforce the cars engage the speed limiter by the ‘slow down’ tables.

    My idea would be to install pre-defined zones on the circuit with sensors built into or next to the asphalt. (They may have already done that in which case I haven’t paid enough attention. That’d not be unsurprising as as a non-native English speaker, I tried to phrase this post last night as well, but I was so tired that I couldn’t manage it. :P)


    @hunocsi I don’t think the Slow Zone is a bad idea, but as a newish fan of the WEC myself, I’d have liked a different approach


    I think it’s a logical approach, but I think it has been a bit patchy when they’ve used it in practice, with how the drivers attack the run up to the slow zone. It might make sense to have the slow zone preceded by a yellow flag sector, so the cars aren’t racing right up to the slow zone, but instead get in line and slow down sensibly.

    But with the enormous length of La Sarthe I think it’s a much better idea than a full course caution where cars are prevented from racing even when they’re several miles away from the obstruction.

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