Socially-distanced podiums and sanitised cars: the return of racing in 2020

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Race organisers have been told to make significant changes when events resume, with social distancing and sanitiser required

BTCC podium

Podium ceremonies must respect social-distancing rules under new guidelines

BTCC

Racing will return in Britain with socially-distanced podium ceremonies and extended pitstops to sanitise cars when driver changes are needed.

Teams will be encouraged to avoid sharing tools and equipment, and cars may be inspected by video at some events.

But co-drivers will not be permitted for now, which will limit rallies to timed trials at single venue where spectators can be excluded.

New guidelines have been published by Motorsport UK, which governs four-wheeled racing in the country, outlining how organisers should run events and maintain restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Competitors will be encouraged to bring first aid kits to treat minor injuries, to reduce contact with staff in the medical centre, and pit areas will need regular sanitisation.

British GT driver change

Driver changes will have to be unaided and competitors will need to sanitise their cars

British GT

Circuits are already opening up for testing and the suspension of race events permits ends at the beginning of July. Major national series, including the British Touring Car Championship and British GT, are planning to begin their season on the first weekend of August.

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However, it is not known whether spectators will be able to attend. Organisers are waiting on the government to define the size and scale of social gatherings that may be permitted this summer.

The Motorsport UK guidelines focus on measures that will be needed to protect marshals, officials, competitors and team personnel.

They warn that “significant changes” will be needed by event organisers to ensure that events can run safely, and the guidelines will need to be adapted for each meeting. Circuits will need to confirm compliance with the Covid-19 guidance to obtain a permit to hold races.

Every event will need to decide how they use the guidelines. The measures include the following:

Teams and competitors

  • Limiting team personnel numbers to ensure social distancing can be respected
  • Discouraging the sharing of tools and equipment within teams
  • Must follow government guidelines on wearing PPE
  • First aid kits encouraged to treat minor injuries and avoid unnecessary medical centre visits
  • In-car contact areas must be sanitised by the driver when driver changes take place, adding more than 30sec to pitstops.

Officials and venue

  • Race briefings to be carried out remotely via email or video
  • Clerk of the course to speak to new drivers remotely or in an open area
  • Narrow walkways at circuits should be made one-way.
  • Remote video inspections of vehicles and equipment may be used
  • Podium ceremonies will be socially-distanced and not public events

Marshals

  • Marshals should wear PPE in line with government advice
  • A maximum of two marshals per post (one in the box, one on lights and flags)
  • Marshals should check for a thumbs-up sign from any driver involved in an incident and request help if it’s not given.
  • Organisers will decide if sanitiser is available at each marshal post

All marshals, officials and competitors will have to declare that they have no coronavirus symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone who may have displayed these symptoms in the previous 14 days.

Further guidance is expected on emergency medical incidents.

“This project has involved a wide representation of the motorsport community coming together and examining how each aspect of every discipline can be adapted to respect government advice on social distancing, and the broader needs of the community,” said Motorsport UK CEO, Hugh Chambers.

“As ever with Motorsport, our responsibility is to the safety of both our community and the wider public. It is important that when we do restart motorsport that we do so in a safe and responsible fashion that respects the broader public health agenda and mood of the nation.

“We will all need to modify the way we have worked in the past and accept these changes in a collaborative and constructive way. Motorsport has always thrived on innovation and adaptability to overcome problems, and it has been enormously encouraging to see the community come together and freely contributing to re-imagine every part of our sport, and the practicalities of each event.”