The management of the Nurburgring Nordschleife has announced its intention to remove the speed limits at the notorious circuit after a number of improvements in regard to safety are completed in 2016.
According to Capricorn Nurburgring GmbH, a total of 16 changes are planned for the circuit. Lap record attempts were banned and speed limit zones were enforced in June following a serious accident in March in which a spectator succumbed to fatal injuries during this season’s VLN Endurance Championship.
One of the main improvements that will be done to the circuit is the additional safety fences in several track sections as well as a restricted zone in the Schwedenkreuz area. Extra guardrails and FIA-approved safety fences will be installed along the Döttinger Höhe section to better protect the adjacent federal road.
The company will also renew the track surface in the Flugplatz section over a length of about 500 metres, an improvement that will smoothen out at least five bumps according to managing director Carsten Schumacher. While fans take great pleasure in seeing cars sent flying, the bumps proved to be unsafe when a Nissan GT3 car flew into the crowd in March.
Other improvements have not been disclosed but the company aims to implement seven of the 16 planned measures from November this year until the beginning of the 2016 season.
GREATER SAFETY ON THE NORDSCHLEIFE
The Nurburgring’s legendary Nordschleife is to be made even safer, and speed limits are to become a thing of the past as of 2016. At a round table on “safety on the Nordschleife”, capricorn Nurburgring GmbH (CNG) presented a comprehensive set of measures to representatives of the German motor sport association DMSB, the ADAC, the automotive industry, the organisers, teams, drivers and the region, finding wide approval. In the next step, an official application for renewal of the circuit approval, which is set to expire according to schedule at the end of the year, will be submitted to the International Automobile Federation FIA via the DMSB.
A serious accident during this season’s first VLN Endurance Championship Nurburgring race at the end of March, in which a spectator sustained fatal injuries, triggered discussions about safety, as well as the unusual move of introducing speed limits on a race track.
After analysis: targeted measures
“Safety on the Nordschleife during races, but also during test drives of the industry and during tourist ride sessions, is our highest priority,” Carsten Schumacher, managing director of Nurburgring operator CNG said at the round table on Monday, 17 August at the Lindner Congress & Motorsport Hotel Nürburgring. “Together with all those involved, we responded to the accident by carrying out a detailed analysis of the situation and compiling targeted measures to further increase active and passive safety, and especially the safety of spectators along the Nordschleife.”
The safety of spectators in particular is the focus of the planned installation of additional safety fences in several track sections and a restricted zone in the Schwedenkreuz area. In order to increase passive safety, lines of protection are to be optimised by installing additional guardrails and FIA safety fences, for instance along the Döttinger Höhe section to better protect the adjacent federal road.
The renewal of the track surface, as a first step in the track section Flugplatz, will serve to increase active safety on the Nordschleife, which was opened in 1927. “Based on detailed measurement, we will renew the track surface in the Flugplatz section over a length of about 500 metres, smoothing out five bumps which are the result of years of high utilisation and heavy use of the Nordschleife,” Carsten Schumacher explains.
Starting from November until the beginning of the 2016 season, seven of the 16 measures planned are to be implemented. “The unique character of the Nordschleife will be preserved. That’s not only important for motor racing but also for the industry, which has been testing its vehicles on this unique race track for decades,” says Carsten Schumacher, who also banks on additional technical measures on the part of the carmakers.
Hans-Joachim Stuck: “Effective measures”
On behalf of the 22 experts at the round table hosted by the Nurburgring, DMSB president Hans-Joachim Stuck, who was unable to attend in person, explained: “All parties want to preserve the Nordschleife and its uniqueness. However, we all know that we will have to improve safety. To this end, the Nürburgring as track operator has worked hard to devise a set of effective measures in great detail which met with broad approval at this round table.” The participants also spoke in favour of successively implementing the measures in the next few years.
The Nürburgring will now submit the catalogue of measures presented to the German motor sport association DMSB in the form of an application, to be forwarded to the Circuit Commission of the International Automobile Federation FIA.