Productive Franchise Board meeting results in rule changes; new technical and safety committee members for 2003 Champ Car season.
INDIANAPOLIS (December 23, 2002) - A Championship Auto Racing Teams Franchise Board meeting at CART's Indianapolis headquarters Tuesday resulted in a number of positive rule changes for 2003, and also established the members of the 2003 Technical Advisory and Safety Advisory committees.
"As has been the case with all of our Franchise Board meetings in 2002, Tuesday's meeting was another productive outing for everybody involved," said CART Vice President of Racing Operations John Lopes. "We were able to agree on many changes that will enhance our race weekends throughout the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, and we are confident that these changes will lead to better competition for our fans to enjoy in the coming year."
The rule changes will take effect at the start of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. Perhaps the most notable rule changes empowered the CART stewards with more flexibility in regard to penalties.
Specifically, the pit rules regarding the pit lane speed limit and race car placement in the pit box have been changed to allow officials to alter the severity of penalties to better fit the infraction. The rule regarding right of way for race cars entering and exiting pit boxes has been clarified in an effort to prevent one car from interfering with another and having a detrimental affect on the competition.
Also, competitors will not assume the lead of a race on pit lane solely based on the location of their pit box. Lead changes will only occur on the race track or upon exiting the pits.
In the event of extreme circumstances, CART stewards will now have the option of declaring a race official before half of the scheduled distance has been run. However, only 50 percent of the championship points will be awarded if a race is concluded with fewer than 50 percent of the race laps run.
The format of Champ Car race weekends was also addressed in the Franchise Board meeting, with a handful of alterations from previous years. The first Champ Car practice session at all races will be 50 minutes in length and will be followed by 50 minutes of down time, during which no support race events will be allowed on track. Teams will be allowed to continue working on their cars in their pits during the down time, which will be followed by an additional 50-minute practice session.
Road and street course qualifying will continue to be held on Fridays and Saturdays of race weekends, but the road course qualifying format has been modified to guarantee only 25 minutes of green flag time, down from 30 minutes at the end of the 2002 season. This will encourage early session participation and will aid in maintaining the time certain schedule.
In another effort to adhere to the time certain schedule, the rule covering the restart of the session clock following a red flag during qualifying has also been modified. When qualifying resumes after a red flag with two minutes or fewer remaining in the session, the clock will be started when the first competitor crosses the main timing line on the race track. Under extreme circumstances when guaranteed green time has been fulfilled, the Chief Steward may elect to end the session.
Other race weekend format rule changes include a simplification of the oval qualifying order and the start of the race-day morning warm-up session. On ovals, the qualifying order will be established by the inverse of practice times if 60 minutes or more of practice time was completed. If fewer than 60 minutes was available, the order will be determined by championship point standings. The rule regarding the scheduling of the race-day morning warm-up has been amended to allow the warm-up to take place earlier than 9 a.m. in an effort to accommodate television start times on occasion.
The 2003 aerodynamic rules were also established in Tuesday's meeting. On short ovals in 2003, the aerodynamic package that will be used will be identical to the 2002 road course package. On superspeedways, the aerodynamic package will be virtually identical to the package used on short ovals in 2002, with some modifications to the Gurney Flap on the rear wing to achieve the desired amount of drag.
Testing rules for 2003 have also been modified. The total test day allocation for 2003 will be 11 days per team entrant, with three days being allocated to CART-sanctioned open tests and the remaining eight days to be used at the team's discretion. No test days will be allowed prior to January 4, 2003, and five of the days must be used during non-blackout periods prior to May 1, 2003. The remaining three days may be used during any non-blackout period during the season.
CART will organize three test days open to all Champ Car entrants, and may organize other special test days open to all entrants should extraordinary conditions exist. Any of the three mandated open test days that are cancelled by CART, as well as days not scheduled by CART, will be added to each team's test day allocation, and appearance at CART Spring Training is mandatory.
Each entrant with a licensed rookie driver that is entered to drive in the current Champ Car season may be allotted additional test days at the sole discretion of the Chief Steward. Drivers who have not yet driven a race for a team, are replacing another driver mid-season, or have been absent for medical reasons may be allotted no more than two evaluation days per team by the CART Director of Technology and Competition. However, these evaluation tests may not be conducted at race tracks where CART Champ Car races are yet to be contested during the 2003 season.
Each team will receive an allotment of 12 dry type tires per each test day used before May 1, 2003. Additionally, each team will receive a total allotment of 24 dry type tires for use during the three testing days available after May 1. Among the items discussed in Tuesday's meeting was a proposal to eliminate the mandatory pit stop window that was introduced in 2003, but was voted down by the Franchise Board.
The 2003 Technical Advisory Committee was named, and will consist of CART Director of Technology and Competition Lee Dykstra, CART Senior Manager of Electronics Kevin Vander Laan, CART Senior Manager of Technology Jim Robinson, Herdez Competition Co-Owner and Managing Director Keith Wiggins, Team Rahal Technical Coordinator Ray Leto, Newman/Haas Racing Chief Engineer Peter Gibbons, and Player's/Forsythe Racing Technical Director Bruce Ashmore.
Additionally, the 2003 Safety Advisory Committee was named and will consist of Dykstra, Vander Laan, CART Chief Orthopedic Consultant Dr. Terry Trammell, CART Senior Manager of Safety Lon Bromley, and Craig Wiggins of Lola Cars. A representative of Reynard Motorsport and a driver representative of the CART Drivers Association will also be included in the Safety Advisory Committee, and will be announced at a later time.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. 2002 CART champion Cristiano da Matta led a bevy of open-wheel stars this past season competing with teams such as Newman/Haas Racing, Player's/Forsythe Racing, Team Rahal, Fernandez Racing, Patrick Racing, Herdez Competition, Mo Nunn Racing, Walker Racing and others. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 19-race 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will be broadcast by television partners CBS, FOX and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.