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A brand new name (or two), a revised starting procedure, and revised balance of performance are just some of the changes awaiting fans and competitors in next year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook. CREVENTIC’s Ole Dörlemann walks us through some of the more important points.
Not-so dynamic Balance of Performance
Arguably the most significant change to the sporting and technical regulations for 2020 concerns how balance of performance will be administered. Yep, we’re starting with the sexy stuff!
In 2017, the controversial – and increasingly unpopular – Minimum Reference Lap times, under which A6-Am teams were instructed to go no faster than a pre-set speed, were abandoned in favour of dynamic BOP for 2018. It was a celebrated move, one that allowed PRO drivers in A6-AM GT cars to run at full pelt unbridled, thus pulling more and more Pro-Am GT teams to the front of the field.
In other classes, the minimum reference lap time system was replaced by the so-called “Dynamic -BOP”, a system in which a faster theoretical lap time would allow less refuelling during pit stops. Maximum fuel allowance during each pit stop could easily be adjusted for the sake of parity.
Granted, a concept as ubiquitous as ‘dynamic’ BOP proved slightly more complex than a hard and fast Minimum Reference Lap time, something CREVENTIC’s Ole Dörlemann hopes the new ‘fixed’ BOP – which will now be pre-set ahead of the green flag – will assuage next season.
“Dynamic BOP worked really well as a replacement for Minimum Reference Lap times, but it was never going to be a long term solution,” Ole explains. “Say a Pro-Am team has four drivers, one a PRO and the other three are AM. The PRO driver’s pace could be so good – two, three or four seconds faster than his teammates – that he inadvertently ends up costing the team more time in the pits.
“That’s why we’re moving to fixed BOP for all classes, which is based purely on the performance of the car, not the drivers. This will minimise performance gaps and make the racing even tighter, but still keep things fair for everyone. Plus, nobody wants their BOP to change mid-race!”
‘It’s all in a name’. Pt.1 – Championships and Divisions
Next season, two new registered series join CREVENTIC’s portfolio.
Like 2019, all European rounds of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season will count towards overall and class championships in the newly registered ‘24H SERIES Europe’, while the season opening Hankook 24H DUBAI, the season closing Hankook 24H COTA USA, and the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, representing the European leg, will count towards outright and category titles in the newly renamed ‘24H SERIES Continents’. As was previously the case, teams and drivers once again have the option to run the full 24H SERIES season in 2020.
Within these revamped championships, the GT-division and the TCE-division will continue to run as separate entities, albeit as part of single 12 or 24-hour endurance races. For the sake of clarity, CREVENTIC has opted to retire the 24H GT SERIES and 24H TCE SERIES nomenclature.
“Back in 2016, we decided to split GT and TCE into two divisions, and in 2017, we ran a completely separate 24H TCE SERIES for the first time,” Ole continues. “We got quite a bit of interest from that, but we really wanted to go back to our roots for 2018, with combined races but separate championships.
“In 2020, we’re taking another step: we will still be crowning overall GT and TCE title holders, plus individual categories, but they will no longer be referred to as separate championships. They will be divisions within 24H SERIES Europe and 24H SERIES Continents. Hopefully that makes things a bit clearer.”
Like this season, teams will have the option to drop its worst scoring race from its final points tally, ensuring the title charge for both 24H SERIES Europe and 24H SERIES Continents go down to the wire.
‘It’s all in a name’. Pt.2 – Categories
Not only does CREVENTIC bid farewell to the ‘European Championship’ and the ‘Championship of the Continents’ monikers for 2020, but also the ‘A6’, ‘A3’ and ‘A2’ categories…
…put those pitchforks down and listen.
Despite being a 24H SERIES staple since 2007, A6-PRO and A6-AM will be henceforth be known as GT3-PRO and GT3-AM respectively in 2020, a move CREVENTIC feels will make GT eligibility per class much easier.
Across in TCE meanwhile, A2, A3 and the BMW-focused CUP1 class will be consolidated into the brand new ‘TC’ category, a move Ole feels will give diminishing entry numbers in TCE a major boost.
“Right back in the beginning, we had the A1-class and everything else up to A5 before A6 was created for 2007. But slowly, all the ‘A’ classes have been slowly disappearing as global homologation regulations have developed. For years the Porsche 997 was a big part of A6, and now the 991 has its own bespoke category. It is a little sad to say goodbye to ‘A6’, but we feel having GT3-PRO and GT3-AM as our top classes is the right way to go. We certainly won’t be losing any cars!
“We’ve also found that more and more teams and drivers want to compete with fully-homologated models, so while we’re still getting big numbers for TCR, GT4 and 991, fewer independent teams are entering what are essentially road cars adapted for the track. That’s why we’ve gone for the new ‘TC’ category in 2020: the performance difference may be a little bigger to begin with, but we absolutely want to provide our current A3 and CUP1 teams with more competition, and we’re confident the new fixed BOP regulations will find a fair balance.”
Similarly, the ‘Special Prototype’ SPX and SP2 categories – both of which have also seen entry numbers slip in recent years – will be amalgamated into ‘GTX’ in the GT-division for 2020, while SP3 in the TCE-division will be called ‘TCX’ from January onwards. All other categories – save GT-Retro and TCP1/2, both of which will be discontinued – remain unchanged.
When the lights go out…
Anybody who witnessed last year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO will know how tense 24H SERIES race starts can be at the best of times. We’re still not sure how Antti Buri and Nicolas Béraud managed to avoid slamming into the pit wall after locking wheels…
With this change to the regulations though, CREVENTIC is doubling down on the excitement. In the past, even after the lights have gone out, competitors had to wait until they crossed the start-finish straight before the race officially began. Next season, when the lights go out, the race is on, regardless of whether the field has crossed the start-finish straight. That should lead to one or two fewer jumpstart penalties too!
TCR Middle East returns for 2020
Having promoted and organised the TCR Middle East Series for the first time in 2019, CREVENTIC is pleased to announce that the GCC-focused touring car series will return for a fourth consecutive year in 2020. The new calendar includes two United Arab Emirates-based round in early to mid January, plus a voluntary race weekend in Malaysia in February.
Crucially though, while the TCR Middle East Series will include three 30-minute sprint race at each event, the accompanying endurance races having been scrapped.
“We had some difficulties this year. A few teams mentioned that, after racing almost 90 cars around the Dubai Autodrome for 24 hours, competing against just eight cars for six hours two weeks later didn’t quite provide the same rush!
“We also agreed that endurance racing wasn’t the way to go. TCR is a market predominantly geared towards sprint racing, and we have to be mindful of team budgets, particularly for a growing winter series that takes place during the off-season.
“So this year, only sprint races. We’re also going back to Yas Marina – that was our most popular event this year – and our first round will officially support the Hankook 24H DUBAI. That’s a major selling point. There’s an atmosphere in the paddock you just can’t replicate and teams now have a reason to bring more than one car if their drivers want some additional track time. Plus, it’s a global event, so teams from Europe, Asia, America and even Australia have shown interest.”
Round one is scheduled for 9-10 January at the Dubai Autodrome, while the second will take place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi one week later on 16-17 January. Competitors will also have the option to race at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on 15-16 February. Though not an official round of the 2020 TCR Middle East Series, the TCR Asia season opener could prove an invaluable cross-promotional event for Asian, GCC and European competitors alike.
“The Sepang race is not officially organised by CREVENTIC, but does give us an opportunity to work together and create a strong field of teams for both championships. It also helps us gauge whether we could or should add another race to the calendar outside the UAE in the future. There are beautiful circuits in the Middle East, particularly in Bahrain and Kuwait, and depending on the success of 2020, that’s definitely something we would consider.”
*Further information regarding 2020 sporting and technical regulations can be found on 24hseries.com, or via +31 485 471 166. News and updates on the upcoming TCR Middle East can also be found at middleeast.tcr-series.com.