The organization of the next 24h of Le Mans has already started and although there are still seven months to go, there is already a first draft of the new regulations that will be adopted for the 2024 edition.
Basically, the rules of the FIA World Endurance Championship are used, with the addition of the LMP2 Class for the French race, and since the publication of the official document issued by the FIA and Automobile Club de l’Ouest there is already the first important news.
Compared to last year, the Safety Car procedure has been simplified by removing the ‘Drop Back’, i.e. the division into three categories at the restart. In 2023 the entire rule had been changed, with the three SCs – A, B and C – always entering as many distinct points of the track when the race director deemed it appropriate.
The same thing will be repeated next year too and, once conditions allow it, we will always proceed with the ‘Merging behind one Safety Car’ (point 14.6.4 of the Regulation), or as described below:
– The entrance to the pit lane will be closed.
– Safety Car B and Safety Car C will turn on their green lights, then the cars positioned behind Safety Car B and Safety Car C will overtake their respective Safety Cars and continue as quickly as possible without compromising safety and without overtaking each other , until you reach the line behind Safety Car A.
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Porsche Safety Car
From this moment, and until the end of the Safety Car procedure, each car entering the pits must first inform the Race Direction via the official messaging system. Any car that does so after the Clerk of the Course has declared the incident resolved and the regrouping begins will only be permitted if it needs to replace damaged tires and repair related damage, or bodywork which presents an obvious safety risk. .
Subsequently, the third phase takes over, namely that of ‘Pass Around’, which gives the cars behind the SC and in front of the leader of their category the opportunity to ‘split’; here safety car A will turn on the green lights and the group will move to the left to allow the lapped drivers to overtake the row and the Safety Car from the right side, always proceeding in the same order and without warming up the tyres, covering the lane as quickly as possible track and always safe to reconnect with the troop.
The suitability to carry out the Pass Around will be established based on the ranking drawn up after the last pass in Intermediate 1, before the Race Director’s message “Prepare for Pass Around”. If the class leader is in the pit lane at the time the above message appears on the timing monitors, then eligibility will be based on the next car in class that was physically behind the track leader in the order.
And here’s the news for 2024, namely the cancellation of the category grouping phase with the ‘Drop Back’. In 2023 it would move to one side again to allow the passage of higher class cars, thus dividing Hypercar, LMP2 and GT.
The entire procedure lengthened the operations enormously and had been harshly criticized by various professionals; among other things, in the Centenary edition, where there were no shortage of accidents and problems especially in the early stages also due to the weather, in the general calculation a good 3 hours of race were lost behind the Safety Car.
Certainly the elimination of ‘Drop Back’ is a first step forward in going back to how operations were once carried out, still guaranteeing entertainment and a shorter ranking. It now remains to be seen how this change will be received by drivers and teams, who will now find themselves starting in the middle of category traffic. But there is clearly still time to discuss it.
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