On Monday, the GT Association (GTA), promoters of the Autobacs Super GT Series, announced its key revisions to the series sporting regulations for the 2018 season.
These changes include an update to the Success Ballast system as it is applied to the premier GT500 category, an updated knockout qualifying format with two separate groups of GT300 cars starting the time trials, and key amongst the regulation changes, a much stricter application of the formation lap and race start procedures for 2018.
Tighter Fuel Flow Restrictions in GT500 Success Ballast
In 2017, the GTA re-introduced fuel flow restrictors as part of the overall Success Ballast system in the GT500 categories. These fuel flow restrictors, applied to cars who have accumulated over 50 kilograms worth of Success Ballast, are applied in three-stage increments.
For safety and balancing reasons, the fuel flow restrictions at all three stages have been revised in 2018, and done so without compromising the competitiveness of the field.
Every GT500 car starts off at the standard fuel flow rate of 95 kilograms per hour (kg/h), until they exceed 50 kilograms of Success Ballast. At “Stage 1” (51-67 kg), the car’s weight handicap is limited to 34-50 kg, and the fuel flow rate is restricted to 91.8 kg/h (down from 92.4 kg/h in 2017).
At “Stage 2” (68-84 kg), the fuel flow rate is limited further, to 88.6 kg/h (was 89.8 kg/h). And at “Stage 3” (85-100 kg), the car’s weight handicap is restricted to 35-50 kg, and the fuel flow rate is restricted even further still, to 85.5 kg/h (was 87.4 kg/h) which is a 10 percent reduction from the standard 95 kg/h rate.
New knockout qualifying format splits GT300 field into two groups
Due to the high volume of GT300 entrants on the Super GT grid, the GTA announced that it will revise its two-stage knockout qualifying format at certain venues (which will be announced at a later date).
In the new qualifying format, the GT300 grid will be separated into two groups based on championship ranking. Odd-number rank teams will be in “Group A”, and even-number rank teams will be in “Group B”, and each group will run a 10-minute qualifying session with the fastest 7 cars from each group advancing into Q2. GT500 Q1 will be reduced to 10 minutes, with the fastest 8 cars advancing into Q2.
At all venues where the GT300 field is not split into two groups, there will be a single 15-minute Q1 session where the 14 fastest GT300 cars advance into Q2, and GT500 will also get a single 15-minute Q1 session, with the fastest 8 moving on to Q2.
In both GT500 and GT300, Q2 has been reduced from 12 minutes to 10 minutes, as a way of cutting down on the amount of time in the session spent waiting for cars to go out onto track.
Stricter enforcement of formation starts in both GT500 and GT300 classes
One key area that the GTA is looking into is the race starts, in particular, the double-file formations at the start of both the GT500 and GT300 class races.
All cars are required to maintain a steady speed of 80-90 kilometers per hour during the formation lap. Immediate acceleration and deceleration before reaching the start/finish line is prohibited, and will be subject to penalties from race control.
The grid must also maintain an orderly formation of two rows until the start signal is given by race control. Cars are no longer allowed to weave across the track before the command to start is given.
Also, whereas there was only one official start signal given per race to the GT500 cars, this year there will also be a start signal given to the GT300 cars, which will be done 30 seconds after the GT500 race start.
Images courtesy of NISMO, Goodsmile Racing, and the GT Association