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How the Complusory Pit Stop rules should have been written
Shane Rogers

Over the last week, there us been much comment on the both the supplementary regulations for the Clipsal 500 in relation to compulsory pit stops (CPSs) and the implementation of the CPS rules.

Now that the dust has settled, I believed that if somebody can write rules like they did for the Clipsal 500, then surely I can do better than that.

The contentious issue with CPSs are the rules surrounding CPSs performed under Saftey Car caution conditions. The regulations as they stood at the start of the Clipsal 500 weekend were:

2.5.6 No competitor is permitted to commence a CPS while the "Safety Car Board" is displayed, but any CPS commenced before the "Safety Car Board" is displayed will count as a CPS.
2.5.7 A competitor will be deemed to have commenced a CPS when the car stops at its pit bay for the purpose of carrying out a CPS.
2.5.8 Scrutineers under the direction of the Chief Scrutineer, Tony Milton, will determine whether a car has stopped at its pit bay for the purposes of regulation 2.5.7.
2.5.9 Any competitor prevented from commencing a CPS by "Safety Car Board" conditions extending beyond the fifty-seventh (57th) lap must commence the CPS during the first flying lap after having crossed the control line following the withdrawal of the "Safety Car Boards".
2.5.10 Any competitor prevented from commencing a CPS as a result of a race being stopped under a red flag, and not being re-started, will have one (1) lap deducted from the total number of laps that competitor achieved in the race so stopped.
2.5.11 Following the withdrawal of any "Safety Car Board", a CPS may only be commenced after the leading car has crossed the control (timing) line and completed one full lap, after the Safety Car has withdrawn.

They look pretty good, right? Wrong. I have two criticisms of these rules. Specifically, 2.5.7 means that a car can be forced to enter the pit lane, and drive through the pit lane without making a CPS if the Safety Car boards go out while the car is driving down pit lane before their stop.

It doesn't take Einstein to work out that this rule is fundamentally flawed. It would have been much simpler to implement if the rule defined a CPS to begin when the car entered pit lane. You could even wire the officials to the timing system, and stick a timing line in the pit lane entrance to inconclusively prove whether a car had broken this rule. No need for judge of fact officials.

2.5.10 is stupid as well, as it just isn't fair. Why favour cars that pit early before cars that pit later, by penalising the later cars a lap. It's pointless. I agree that not having the rule is discriminatory to teams that pit early, but why create extra headaches when the end result is no better than the original result.

It reminds me of all the rules that they've come up with to make One-Day Cricket results fair if it rains. Maybe we can get Duckworth and Lewis to sort something out...

When rewriting the rules, the first question is: Are these rules required? Why not just let the guys pit under safety car at any time? There are two reasons why I think they should stay:
(1) Safety. If everybody pits at once, then you get problems like the Stone Brothers had at Bathurst last year.
(2) Strategy of the event. The race will be pretty boring if once the first SC comes out in the Window, all the teams make their two CPSs in one hit. At least by forbidding stops, it split the teams up a bit in the races (I don't expect this to happen in the future though).

In coming up with a solution, there was the two conflicting arguments, then need to prevent the "do all your stops under the one SC period" tactics, while letting teams do stops under the Safety car.

There's also the problem of everybody pitting at once to address as well.

To solve problem two, there should be a "one-stop" limit under any one Safety Car period. This means that once the SC appears, you are allowed to make one CPS, but you are then not allowed to pit again until the caution period ends.

Problem two makes problem one worse though, as everybody would pit at the same time. The solution to this is two fold. Firstly, use the CART pit stop system, and secondly, allocate the garages differently.

The CART pit stop system works as follows:
When the yellow comes out, the pits are closed. Nobody can pit at this stage unless there is a serious mechanical problem or accident damage, anybody who does pit and successfully rejoins the race will be either (a) sent to the back of the line before the race goes green or (b) penalised in some other form.

The closing is for two reasons, firstly it allows cars who need access to pit lane to get it (this includes emergency vehicles, cars cruising to the pits, etc), secondly it allows the field to bunch up in a fair and equitable way. It also allows incompetent officials to get the right car at the head of the queue, before opening the pit lane.

Once everybody is bunched up, the pit is opened, and only the cars on the lead lap are allowed to pit. This prevents problems with the top teams having to battle for pit space with cars that aren't in contention. Then after the leaders have been given first bite of the cherry, anybody is allowed to pit.

The only issue I can see about this is that the top teams are all bunched up at one end of pit lane, so the solution here is allocate the garages with top teams intermingled with bottom teams to prevent cars in adjacent garage bays from pitting at the same time.

Based on this above, here are Shane's Saftey Car rules for the Clipsal 500 version 1. Here goes:
The bits in bold show my changes.

2.5.4 It is not permitted to commence a CPS before the leading car crosses the control (timing) line at the end of the leading car's fifteenth (15th) lap.
2.5.5 No CPS is permitted after the leading car has crossed the control (timing) line at the end of the leading car's fifty-seventh (57th) lap.
2.5.6 A competitor is permitted only permitted to commence one (1) CPS in one Safety Car period (while the pit lane entrance lights are yellow or flashing yellow).
2.5.6.1 Any CPS commenced before the Safety Car period has commenced will not be included in the 2.5.6 limitation.
2.5.6.2 A Safety Car period will be deemed to have commenced when the Safety Car board is displayed at the start/finish line.
2.5.7 A competitor will be deemed to have commenced a CPS when the car stops crosses the pit stop entrance control line 50 meters before the entrance of the pit lane for the purpose of carrying out a CPS.
2.5.8 Once the Safety Car period commences the lights at the pit stop entrance control line will be changed to red.
2.5.8.1 A competitor cannot make a pit stop, if while the lights at the start of pit lane are red, the competitor crossed the pit stop entrance control line.
2.5.8.2 Any competitor in contravention of regulation 2.5.8.1 or 2.5.8.4 are subject to either a stop-and-go penalty, or the deduction of one (1) lap from total number of laps that competitor achieved in the race.
2.5.8.3 Once all running competitors are within 5 car lengths of each other, with the leading car immediately behind the Safety Car, then the pit lane entrance lights shall be changed to flashing yellow. The lights are not to be changed from red to flashing yellow unless all cars an equal opportunity to pit under the Safety Car.
2.5.8.4 Once the lights change to flashing yellow only cars less than one lap behind the leading competitor are allowed to make a pit stop.
2.5.8.5 Once the entire field has passed the pit entrance, the lights shall be changed from flashing yellow to yellow, indicating that any competitor can make a pit stop.
2.5.9 Any competitor prevented from commencing a CPS by Safety Car period conditions extending beyond the fifty-seventh (57th) lap must commence the CPS during the first flying lap after having crossed the control line following the withdrawal of the "Safety Car Boards".
2.5.10 removed
2.5.11 Following the withdrawal of any "Safety Car Board", the lights will remain Yellow until all competitors have passed the control line to resume the race. The lights will then change to Green, indicating the current Saftey Car period has concluded for the purposes of regulation 2.5.6.


Your thoughts? Do you think Shane's got it right? Tell us, well get Shane to answer your questions, and post the results to the website over the next few days...