New Start Procedure for Cleveland

Champ Car World Series officials have taken drastic steps to try to reduce the likelihood of a first-lap, first-corner pile-up at Cleveland on Sunday

New Start Procedure for Cleveland

Races at the unique Burke Lakefront Airport course always present drivers (or, more particularly, their team owners who have to foot the repair bills) with a major headache - getting through the first turn in one piece.

Some sort of contact can be virtually guaranteed and more often than not there is complete mayhem, as was the case last year when Alex Tagliani triggered a melee that eliminated front-row qualifiers Paul Tracy and Justin Wilson.

The reason the start is such a magnet for trouble is that the 100-foot-wide main runway funnels into a tight and comparatively narrow hairpin; drivers fan out seven and eight abreast along the straight only to discover that the corner will only accommodate two or three of them at once.

In a bid to discourage banzai passing attempts, officials will implement a new starting procedure for this year's race. Drivers will be required to stay to the left of a yellow line that runs down the length of the runway, and drive-through penalties will be issued to any transgressors unless stewards deem that they were forced over the line.

Furthermore, a barrel will be placed near the entrance of Turn One to close off the inside half of the runway and prevent drivers steaming up the inside on an impossibly tight line (a la Tagliani in 2004).

The barrel and accompanying restrictions regarding the yellow centreline will be removed after the first lap, reopening one of the favourite overtaking spots on the 2.106-mile track.

Most drivers are ambivalent about the new measures, recognising the need for some action but questioning whether the use of something so rudimentary as a yellow line and a barrel is the best solution.

"I guess I hope nobody hits the barrel like a football and kicks it into somebody," said pole-sitter Paul Tracy. "We'll have to see what the plan is in the drivers' meeting.

"You know, [Champ Car vice-president of operations] Tony [Cotman] has been pretty pro-active on what he's been doing this year. He's going to tell us what he wants to see. We'll see if we can do it into the first corner..."

"I think something needed to be done to try to narrow the racetrack so it's not so tempting and you don't have the P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6 and P10 cars all shooting for the same apex and not making it," added two-time Cleveland winner Sebastien Bourdais.

"I don't know about the barrel. But for sure if somebody crosses the line, he should be penalised and he should know about it. Then he should not even try to make the corner - just try and reposition himself afterwards.

"If you try to sneak back into the pack, for sure it's going to be a big crash."

Saturday's Toyota Atlantic race didn't set an altogether encouraging precedent, as Britain's Katherine Legge triggered a multi-car shunt. A similar expedient (but involving cones rather than a barrel) was adopted for the Champ Car race back in 2000 and the ensuing carnage accounted for a substantial portion of the field.

Cotman and his colleagues will have to hope that the third time's the charm...

shares
comments
Ranger in Exalted Company
Previous article

Ranger in Exalted Company

Next article

Wilson Faces Uphill Struggle

Wilson Faces Uphill Struggle
Porsche’s hopeful Le Mans future meets its illustrious past Plus

Porsche’s hopeful Le Mans future meets its illustrious past

Rising sportscar star Adam Smalley had to pinch himself when offered the chance to drive the car that won the world’s most famous enduro in 1987

Historics
Sep 6, 2022
Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return Plus

Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return

The iconic Lola name is being relaunched after it was taken over by new ownership. Part of that reboot is a planned return to racing, though the exact details of this are still to be finalised - though its new owner does have a desire to bring the brand back to the Le Mans 24 Hours. But romanticism doesn't appear to be the driving force behind this renewed project...

General
Jul 14, 2022
Rating the best drivers of the century so far Plus

Rating the best drivers of the century so far

Autosport's Top 50 feature has been a staple of the magazine for the past two decades since its first appearance in 2002. Here are the drivers that have featured most prevalently during that time

General
Jan 7, 2022
The best motorsport moments of 2021 Plus

The best motorsport moments of 2021

Motorsport produced one of its greatest years of all-time in 2021 despite a backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 challenges and an ever-changing racing landscape. Through the non-stop action Autosport has collected the finest moments from the past 12 months to highlight the incredible drama and joy motorsport generates

General
Dec 31, 2021
The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers Plus

The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers

Making it in motorsport can be tough, and sometimes drivers move elsewhere before their best chance arrives. Here are some of those who made it back

General
Dec 26, 2021
The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes Plus

The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes

It’s rarely mentioned when it comes to assessing the best national contests, but the Brazilian Stock Car series that reaches its climax this weekend has an ever-growing appeal. Its expanding roster of ex-Formula 1 names has helped to draw in new fans, but it's the closeness of competition that keeps them watching

General
Dec 10, 2021
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

General
May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

General
Apr 21, 2021