Online Sports Digest - Motorsport July Addition

‘The race back to the new normal’

There is no doubt that the coronavirus has globally impacted international sport. From empty stadiums to socially distanced matches, sport as we once knew it has changed - perhaps forever.

The changes to rules and regulations to sport have not gone unnoticed. With most events cancelled or postponed until 2021, those games and events that do go ahead, are having to adhere to coronavirus safety regulations.

The British Motorsport industry has certainly had to pave their way around these changes. From the 4th July, the return of motorsport required extensive planning and preparation for the sports ‘new normal’.

It appears that health and safety both on and off the track are of the highest priority. As well as abiding by government guidelines for social distancing and the reduction of large crowds, there is going to be many changes made to the hospitality on the tracks.

"We won't be taking our hospitality unit to our first round because you can't socially distance within the unit," says GT Cup championship director Hannah James. "We're going to be offering a takeaway service with delivery to the garages”. This seems to be one of the many systems that are changing to keep everyone safe. However, the hospitality sector is not the only implementation of change for the sport.

One of the steps governing body Motorsport UK set out in its 'Getting Back on Track' proposals for a safe restart of events concerned races with driver changes. This means an extra 30 seconds to the pitstop time to allow for additional cleaning and sanitation of the car’s contact points before the driver can get back behind the wheel.

"The governing body says there needs to be 30 seconds to clean the car and so the pitstops will now need to be two minutes," explains Britcar boss Claire Hedley. "Drivers still need to pit in the window and each team will have to clean the car with wipes or disinfectant.

The additional time needed for sanitisation will result in a change in the schedule of the endurance race. However, the governing body is going above and beyond to meet the governmental guidelines. The restrictions of engineers and staff in the pits mean there are fewer hands but this will not mean a slack in thorough cleaning.

“Personal protective equipment will be worn and supplied in congested areas,” says Mike Smith, a member of the motorsport committee “this is to ensure our staff and drivers are protected to the best of our ability, no corners will be cut”.

Hannah James also adds that several GT Cup drivers run disinfectant companies and, by using chemicals that are sprayed into the car and stick to surfaces, disinfecting them, that the cleaning process should be straightforward. "It's not a long enough race to worry about drinking from the same hydration system,"

In light of straight forward changes, James also is positive about new electronic systems that have been implemented “some things might be an improvement, like driver briefings and driver sign-ons being done electronically” switching processes online and removing large amounts of paperwork seems like an easier process.

 

There is no doubt that it will take a while for motorsport to get used to the ‘new normal’. While the paddocks may not be full of fans, hospitality reduced and new rigours sanitisation processes in place, one thing for sure there is certainly still an appetite for club racers to get back out on the circuits again.

"I think people are happy to do anything provided they can get back to racing," says James.

It looks like both fans and competitors are willing to comply with the ‘new normal’ as long as it means getting back on the track.