Great events cast their shadows ahead. The VLN endurance championship Nürburgring will re-invent itself in the coming season to some extend. Various innovations, improvements and refinements are in the pipeline for 2020. After a joint, constructive exchange of ideas and views, those responsible for the world’s largest grassroots series have already elaborated several further developments and innovations for the races at the legendary Nordschleife and are still in the process of considering and planning them.
An important topic on the agenda was the improvement of customer-friendliness during the administrative checks and the drivers’ briefing, as well as at scrutineering. The workflow in these parts of the event shall be partly reviewed. The time that these processes will take for the teams and the drivers in the future shall be reduced. The VLN wants to position itself more service-oriented and more smoothly for the participants. It is also planned to digitise these areas even further.
The personal appearance at each administrative check of each event as well as at each drivers’ briefing shall only be mandatory for those drivers participating in a VLN event for the first time in the current season. In the future, administrative checks can also be completed by an official of the team if the driver has already passed administrative checks personally at his first VLN event. For the drivers’ briefing, however, the VLN and Race Control will reserve the right to convene a drivers’ briefing at any time during the VLN events with the mandatory attendance of all drivers in person.
The procedures in the areas of scrutineering and vehicle inspection at the beginning of a VLN event will also be examined in order to consider how these fields can also be optimised for the participants.
Administrative checks will continue to be the responsibility of the respective organisers of the individual VLN races. Due to the complexity of the scheduled new procedures and the resulting consequences and changes in the organisational structure of the VLN events under sporting law, consideration is moreover given to the appointment of a permanent race secretary for the future so that the teams and participants will have the same contact person in the administrative areas at all VLN events and in order to support the organisers and the race management. To that end, the VLN responsible persons and the organizers are still in a dialogue.
In order to increase the safety and to protect team members and mechanics in the pit lane, minimum pit stop times shall be introduced. Without any time pressure, the pit stops shall thus be made safer, more conscientious and less subject to errors in the future. This will also have a welcome side-effect: Again and again, there was the more or less unspoken allegation that competition had been distorted due to uneven flow rates at the fuel pumps. This discussion will now be set aside with the introduction of minimum pit stop times which remain to be further specified in detail. According to current planning, these pit times should be applied as a prescribed total pit time for the entire duration of the race and not depend on the number of laps completed or the number of refuelling operations. As before, the SP-Pro, SP-X, GT3 and GT4 classes will remain exempt from the regulation, as they will retain their own procedures for the duration of pit stops.
The changes and improvements for 2020 will though also include the respective classes. There will be changes in the GT3 and GT4, the TCR class shall become more popular and get an improved structure and on top of that a new class OPC will be introduced and, for the future, further up-and-coming classes in the VLN will be examined.
In the GT3, one silver driver per vehicle will now be admitted in the Am-class so that in future younger drivers under 30 years of age, who are automatically classified silver by the FIA due to their age, will also be able to gain first experience in the amateur category with GT3 vehicles on the Nordschleife.
In the Pro-Am, one Gold or Platinum driver will accordingly be admitted so that the Pro rate in this category is covered. In the GT4 class, only driver who are classified in the silver or bronze category will be at the start. In the VLN, the GT4 class shall be reserved for amateur drivers.
There are still some decisions about the TCR class to be made by the VLN. Now as the contract of the VLN for the TCR class at the Nordschleife expires at the end of the year, the VLN is currently in negotiations with the new rights holder of the TCR series for Germany, the ADAC in Munich, in order get an agreement for the admission of the TCR class in the VLN endurance championship on the Nordschleife also for the next years.
In order to make the TCR class more attractive for amateurs, the VLN plans to introduce the Am and Pro categories. In the TCR-Am category, only unclassified or bronze drivers and one silver driver per vehicle should be allowed start. The remaining participants would be classified in the TCR-Pro category. However, this implies that the VLN will again be vested the rights for the TCR in the VLN endurance championship at the Nordschleife.
From the year 2020, the VLN will again include a separate class for Opel Astra OPC vehicles. Enquiries received by the VLN have shown that there is still a number of these cars on the market that want to be used in competition. The technical regulations will be adjusted to the former Cup regulations. The vehicles of the OPC class will be classified on basis of a power-to-weight ratio, which permits drivers with the DMSB Permit Nordschleife Grade B to participate.
Last but not least, the VLN makes a recommendation. The ADAC Nordrhein intends to make an early warning system for the drivers to be integrated into the vehicles mandatory for the 24h Race. This system provides for a general warning notice even in the absence of a flag signal which is normally used to warn of a danger section on the track, before the vehicle even passes the section of track. Due to the fact that only 50 to 60 vehicles participate both in the 24h Race and permanently in the VLN, the VLN will not make the installation of this system compulsory. The participants can/should do this on a voluntary basis.