Safety is a prime issue in the VLN endurance racing championship Nürburgring - not only for the drivers but also for the track marshals. When they are working at the partly very narrow and blind track of the Nordschleife to recover and secure cars, they must rely on the reasonable behaviour of the drivers who, on their part, must adapt their driving and speed to the situation. The drivers do, however, not always comply with the motorsport regulations and reduce their speed accordingly. Any why at all should they as an exact control of the speed at the more than 24 kilometres long circuit had almost been impossible so far. That has changed this year: By means of the GPS eye, Race Control can now exactly follow the drivers and their speed.
There are 200 marshal positions around the Nordschleife and the GP track, all of them specified on a digitised and satellite based map. In preparation of this map, several complete measurements of the Nordschleife had previously been carried out. "All marshal posts are equipped with a radio and, should this fail, with a telephone", explains VLN Managing Director Karl Mauer. "In the case of an incident, the corresponding post gives a report to Race Control". Race control will then determine the further measures and actions. One of two situations will then be applied in the corresponding section as a consequence: In the case of a waved yellow flag, overtaking is forbidden. If two waved yellow flags are considered to be necessary, all drivers must reduce their speed to a maximum of 60 km/h. This is to provide security for the marshals working on the track. This is also when the GPS eye will be applied. They system does not only show where a car is and at which speed it is being driven, it records also if a participant exceeds the maximum permitted speed of 60 km/h. In any such case, Race Control is immediately informed. "There is an automatic indication of any driver exceeding the limit", says Mauer. "These incidents are furthermore automatically printed."
The GPS eye has the dimension of an average smart phone and it is installed in each car. Two antennas send signals to satellites which determine the position of the participant on the track, just like a navigation system does. An integrated SIM card sends the collected position and speed information per data network to a server which send the edited data to an app. Start number, position and speed of the various participants are then visible on a map. Should there be no network coverage on a section at the Nordschleife, the GPS eye would store the data for a period of up to ten minutes and send them as soon as there is again network coverage. These data are not only available for Race Control, the teams and the spectators, too, can download the app - however with different rights. The app works under iOS and can be found in the app store under the keyword 'gpseye'.