Supercars puts handbrake on pitlane wheelspin

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/02/2019
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Supercars is set to implement new pitlane rules this season, designed to stop rear-wheel movement while pitstops are taking place.

Rotation of the wheels while cars are on their jacks has long been outlawed due to the dangers of having spinning spokes near the fingers of working mechanics.

The rules surrounding the practice were put under the spotlight last year, when Shane van Gisbergen’s rear wheels were seen to move during a pitstop at Pukekohe, above.

That incident eventually went unpunished, with officials using their discretion, based on the fact the wheels did not complete a full rotation.

In a bid to avoid repeat scenarios, Supercars has now mandated that the car’s hydraulic handbrake must be engaged when the car is in its pit bay undertaking a pitstop.

All cars already have some form of hydraulic handbrake, or brake lock mechanism as they are officially referred to, which were previously only typically used during race starts.

Supercars’ head of motorsport Adrian Burgess says that the new regulation has been implemented following a thorough analysis.

“Previously a lot of the teams were relying on the driver rolling their foot off the brake and going for the clutch and throttle as the car hit the ground,” he told Supercars.com.

“So as the car was coming down off the jacks, there was a period where you had the chance to make a mistake and have the wheels rotate.

“What we saw when we looked at all the cars was that all of them use a brake lock mechanism in some way or other that can be used in the pitstops.

“It was a nil-cost, gain-gain that we think will make it safer for everyone and hopefully easier for the drivers to manage as well.”

The new rules stipulate that the brake lock mechanism must be manually engaged, while the disengagement must be automated.

Typically, the handbrakes are activated via a button on the steering wheel, pressed when the driver has their foot on the brake pedal.

The automated disengagement simplifies the take-off procedure for drivers, greatly reducing the chances of an incidental wheel rotation.

It can be achieved electronically, utilising logic statements and other current data channels, such as suspension position and g-force readings.

Supercars’ technical staff are able to monitor the activation of the handbrake in-race as part of the category’s existing telemetry system.

That will allow data to be provided to stewards if required as part of in-race investigations, should any wheel movement be detected.

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