INDIANAPOLIS (February 16, 2004) -- Known throughout motorsports for its commitment to safety as well as its passion for competition, the Champ Car World Series continued to make improvements in both areas with the release of its 2004 Rule Book.
The mandatory pit-stop rule has been adjusted for 2004 to bring more strategy into play, especially when combined with the new point system which awards points for leading a race lap. Teams will be required to perform either two or three green-flag stops during a race and must have those stops completed by a certain point in the event. Champ Car Racing Operations will determine the number and at what point those stops must be completed prior to the race weekend. All green-flag stops must include a four-tire change in order to meet the series requirements.
"We really wanted to do something that allowed the teams more flexibility in their race strategies and also allow them to take advantage of the new point system," said Champ Car Technical Director Lee Dykstra. "At the same time, we needed a system that discourages fuel-economy runs and challenges the drivers, and we think we have been able to accomplish that."
Many rules addressing safety on the track and in pit lane have been added or enhanced, including a mandate penalizing drivers that initiate avoidable contact with another car. This season, any driver causing an incident that negatively affects a competitor will be immediately subjected to a drive-through penalty. In addition, if the contact results in the immediate retirement of a competitor, the offender will serve a stop-and-hold penalty on pit lane.
Further enhancing a rule introduced in 2003, any driver blocking a pursuing competitor or failing to yield to an approaching competitor while lapped, will also receive a drive-though penalty. To aid in the enforcement of the new rules, Champ Car Stewards will have the power to enact more stringent penalties on teams and drivers this year, including the loss of championship points for specific rule violations.
Pit-lane safety has been addressed with a rule stating that contact between a car and any person in pit lane results in an automatic fine of $1,000. The protocol for the start of a race has also been revised, requiring the polesitter to be the first car across the start/finish line at the start of the race. Previously, the second-place qualifier was allowed to pass the polesitter once the green flag had waved to start the event.
Fans will benefit from the rule changes as well, as teams will no longer be allowed to scramble their radio transmissions during a race weekend, meaning that fans that have scanners will be able to experience all the conversations between a team and driver during every Champ Car session during a weekend.