It seems an enormous stink is brewing in VLN. Granted, it doesn’t affect the fast, glamorous end of the grid; but it does concern the teams that make up half of the field.
Cars in the V-classes of the VLN rulebook are built to a set of rules that emphasises their showroom stock character. The VLN has issued an amendment to those regs that would see teams having to rebuild their cars in a number of areas.
These amended regulations were issued in early January. This would have left the teams, a number of whom campaign more than one cars, with a narrow timeframe till VLN1 on March 24. As a reaction to the major uproar among V-class teams, the rules now will go into effect as of VLN3 (June 23).
However, between VLN2 and 3 there are the small matters of the N24 quali race and the N24 itself to be dealt with. A great many of these teams will compete at least in the N24 itself, where they will want to run their cars in the current specification in order to be competitive.
This controversy began at VLN5 of last year, when the scrutineers decided, unannounced, to enforce the V-class technical regulations in a strict manner. It affected a number of technical solutions that until that race had been quietly accepted for over a decade.
A technical bulletin outlining the future policy and the intended changes was issued before VLN6, the organiser says. The teams were asked to comment or bring forward suggestions for changes in October.
VLN states that there were hardly any replies back then. Now the amended rulebook is met with universal disapproval. A poll among teams has brought the – unsurprising – result that practically all of them reject the new rulebook per se, as well as its implementation.
The use of aftermarket bushings in the suspension will no longer be allowed. Conic bushings in the front suspension are currently used to increase camber; this and other adapters are outlawed in favour of more permanent modifications to the dampers or suspension. On the other hand, the use of a mechanical limited slip differential will be allowed. VLN’s argument is that this will establish parity between cars with electronically emulated limited slip and those without such a feature. How, if at all, this can be accomplished using stock production parts is another point of contention.
The teams submit that these changes, with their intended purpose of reducing cost, will actually lead to more spending before and during the season. They also question the longevity of stock components compared to purpose-built aftermarket units, with its possible effect on cost and safety.
Our take on this development: VLN’s well-intentioned attempt to steer the V-class back toward its initial intention of a showroom stock category, which affects over 100 cars, may lead to the withdrawal of a number of teams. Is it really out of the question to push the new rules back to the start of 2019?
In other Nordschleife news, 900 meters of track (Hatzenbach, Hohe Acht, Brünnchen) will have a new surface while new safety fencing will be seen at Kesselchen and Hatzenbach.