Running a Endurance Event
The following page is a guide on running endurance events based on my limited experience. It’s not intended as a rule of law and there are certainly other ways but maybe should be seen as a starting point for discussion?
- To finish the race
- To finish in a position comparable to teams with a similar SOF and starting position.
- To win!
The primary aim in endurance is to be in the race at the end. Race ending crashes or long pit stops for repairs will ruin a race. Ideally if one races within their comfort zone where they can comfortable lap the same time consistently this gives capacity for dealing with all the other aspects of endurance racing.
During the Le Mans race a stint was roughly 12 laps. We experienced a couple of short 2:10 repairs in the early stages which roughly equates to 10 seconds/lap. Those drivers had an average lap time in the BMW of around 3:32:00 but could have run at 3:37:00 average (5 seconds slower) and potentially ended those stints one minute faster without incident. One minute is about a third of a lap which could approximately be as much as half an hour or 10 laps over the duration of a race.
Adhering to something along the lines of running at 90% of ability for 90% of the race increases the chances of achieving objective one and potentially two. In the latter part of the race if there is the potential to gain places or win then the strategy can shift with greater emphasis on pace with an acceptance of the higher risk this poses.
In endurance races everyone shares the same set up. Only wheel/pit box adjustments are available to individual drivers. Therefore its important to test, discuss and share different setups prior to the event so everyone is comfortable with the car. Its useful to test the following scenarios:
- High & Low track temps
- High & Low fuel levels
- Full stint runs
- Day and Night running if applicable.
- Hybrid/DRS deployment strategies if applicable.
One possible target would be to let all drivers have 48-72 hours with the agreed setup.
Note: Ideally active drivers shouldn’t be asked experiment and change hybrid deployment during their stint as it can break focus. Better to discuss it when they are out of the seat and they potentially have the opportunity to practice offline.
The target length for a stint should be 1.5 to 2.0 hours long which roughly equates to double fuel stints in LMPH/GT3. Single stints increase the chance of technical changeover problems with wheels etc. and means more driver/track familiarity laps at the beginning of a stint. This was particularly apparent in the 24Hr Lemans when track temp varied so much.
By not stretching people with normal stint allocation its easy to add an emergency extra stint if required. The driver is still fresh enough to continue – no one wants to do another stint when they are already dead at the wheel. This might happen if someone has technical issues or is late returning to the service.
Everyone should be encouraged to take a sensible and proportional break away from the race especially during the longer 24 hr events. Although some may want to hang around for the full 24 hours its better to allocate everyone some bunk time.
“There are clear negative effects of sleep deprivation on performance, including reaction time, accuracy, vigor, submaximal strength, and endurance. Cognitive functions such as judgment and decision-making also suffer”
Race Engineer (aka The Spotter)
These are team events and with it comes the luxury of having other people around able to feed us specific and timely information on the race as it progresses. Everyone commits time to events like this both before in the build up and during the event itself so its important to embrace the team element.
Many of us will be accustomed to managing all the ‘pit wall’ aspects ourselves during non-team races but this is a chance for us to get closer to realism with real life motorsport and enjoy the pit wall coms!
Race Engineer Tasks
The driver’s job should be to drive – eyes forward and as someone said to me during the Le Mans – “Just do your/their thing”. The spotters job is to provide the driver with essential information as the stint progresses. Ideally, less is more is best here unless the driver wants to chat – the spotter should be led by their driver. The following information should be fed to the driver somewhat in order of importance:
- Driver Behind: Early on the driver can be provided with driving aggression, latency information and average lap time/delta. Then as the gap reduces (20 secs, 10 secs, 5 secs, 2 secs, < 1 sec) the driver should be provided with a simple update. At less than 2 secs possible passing place information could be given.
- Driver Ahead: Time Gap and gains/loses with position. Include driving aggression and latency information if overtake is likely.
- Progress: No. Of Laps remaining and Fuel Usage.
- Other: Answer driver questions and discuss issues as raised by the driver.
In longer events, in addition to a driver schedule, a spotter schedule could be available so that everyone knows when they are required and can organize RL accordingly. This could be done so that driving follows spotting or the reverse and spotting follows driving without breaks however, I prefer the offset option as shown below.
In this scenario, the spotter still has all the knowledge of the track positions etc. and takes responsibility for ensuring the correct pit stop adjustments occur. They are able to focus on providing reminders (e.g. limiter) and giving information on approaching cars to both incoming and outgoing drivers. If the finishing driver needs to continue due to a technical this isn’t a problem. Entering driver has freedom to prepare for a stint without complication. Finishing driver is free to take a comfort break and switch any technical kit without impacting spotting.
In both previous events we ran team voice channels on Discord. There was a natural congregation of people into the Spotter/Driver channel even though a team channel was made available. In hindsight, its only natural that people want to come together and discuss the race and what’s happening. One way to facilitate this with creating unnecessary distraction for the driver is for the spotter should take on a ‘chairman’ like role. If server deafen is checked on the driver then they can still be heard but most importantly can continue to focus. Strategy can then be discussed in a single channel without the complication of the sharing information across channels. Drivers should be allowed to decide if they want to be involved in the discussion or not. The spotter can then control of the unchecking of server deafen to communicate with the driver.
During the Lemans race we ran a complex spreadsheet and through using a Garage61 team were able to download lap data, insert this into the spreadsheet, and then calculate remaining stints etc. However, as we didn’t allocate or discuss this prior to the event it wasn’t always completed. Additional roles such as data entry should be discussed in advance to ensure everyone is comfortable with what needs to be completed.