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  • 31/Jan/2020 MoTeC In-Car Warning System at Bathurst 12 Hour aims to prevent nasty incidents

MoTeC’s in-car warning system will once again play an important role in this weekend’s Bathurst 12 Hour event, helping to prevent major incidents on the fast, winding track. Drivers will receive flag alerts directly into their field of vision via a dedicated light display, immediately warning them of a change to the circuit state.

The system successfully debuted at last year’s 12 Hour and has been used in every Supercars Championship round since the 2019 Bathurst 1000, following a period of testing between MoTeC and Supercars.

While MoTeC is the exclusive supplier of electronics to Supercars, including ECU, data and telemetry systems, the international GT field at the 12 Hour employs a range of data solutions. To overcome this variance and ensure compliance with both the in-car warning system and Balance of Performance (BoP) regulations, a uniform solution sees a MoTeC L120 logging device and Telemetry added to all vehicles.

Read more about the system in this article below, an extract from the 2020 Bathurst 12 Hour program.

Incar

2020 LIQUI-MOLY BATHURST 12 HOUR: SAFETY SYSTEM

Edited by Jesse Taylor.

IMAGINE DRIVING A GT3 CAR AROUND MOUNT PANORAMA

It might be every race fan’s dream to get behind the wheel at Bathurst, but reality is much more difficult. 

IMAGINE THE CONCENTRATION it takes to thread that 250km/h needle between those walls, all the way from the exit of The Cutting to the run out of Forrest’s Elbow. Imagine how much information a driver’s brain is processing as he or she is dancing on the pedals, shifting gears, monitoring the car’s vital data on the dash, and trying to hit apexes with millimetre precision. Imagine trying to do all that while in door-to-door combat.

Now imagine how easy it would be flash past a flag point without noticing waved yellows warning you of a stranded car over the next blind crest…

The tried-and-tested flag marshalling system works incredibly well at the overwhelming majority of circuits around the world. In the wide-open spaces of permanent, purpose-built tracks, monitoring flag points becomes a part of every good driver’s lap-by-lap routine.

But Mount Panorama isn’t most circuits. It’s a rollercoaster ride littered with blind corner entries and exits, with very little run-off or margin for error. There is serious potential for a harmless one-car crash to quickly turn into a serious multi-car crash.

For that very reason, an innovative in-car warning system was debuted at last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour.

The catalyst for the introduction of the system was the nasty crash that brought the 2018 race to an early end. It started with Ash Walsh tangling with a backmarker, which left his Audi in the middle of the track at McPhillamy Park. Moments later John Martin arrived at full-speed, the Audi unsighted until the final fractions of a second before impact.

Walsh would later require surgery thanks to a cut on his elbow, but, remarkably, there were no life-threatening injuries.

Well-aware of the potential for that kind of crash long before it happened, Supercars – the Bathurst 12 Hour promoter – was already working on an in-car warning system. Recognising what a near-miss the Walsh/ Martin impact was, the Supercars technical department vowed to have the system up and running for the 2019 race.

“From a Supercars standpoint, we’d been thinking about it for a while... actually, more than a while,” says former Supercars technical boss David Stuart, who played a pivotal role in the introduction of the system.

“We’d been working with [data logging specialist] MoTeC on how we could integrate it into Supercars for quite some time. We’d been doing a significant amount of track testing, in a blind capacity – by which I mean the driver of the car couldn’t see it. We were sending signals to the car and making sure the system worked, and working through the faults that were identified by that testing.

“Fast forward to the accident at the 12 Hour in 2018, it was determined that we needed to do something about it. Clearly that was a big shunt, and everyone involved was fortunate that there were no serious injuries to come out of it.”

In terms of its function, it’s a simple system. A dedicated bank of lights, in clear view of the driver, displays vital flag information within milliseconds of a change in the circuit state.

The initial installation, however, was less straightforward. While the earlier testing had been done using Supercars-spec Holdens, Fords and Nissans, which all run a MoTeC data logger, accommodating the wide range of data solutions used in an international GT3 field proved challenging.

“The difficulty in employing that system in 2019 was that the GT3 cars all use different data logging systems,” says Stuart. “So we needed to then work out how we could do it.

“For 2019, we supplied telemetry to all cars and added a balance of performance logger to all cars, whether they be GT3 cars or not. That then gave us the ability to introduce the in-car marshalling.

“It was used right from the first session, and as the weekend progressed we had a lot of positive feedback from the teams. We actually found that some teams were moving the shift lights more into the driver’s view than they’d set it up initially. They were tending to utilise it more and more, which was really good feedback.”

So how does it work? Stuart explains: “The lights can display all of the flag states.

“That’s green flag on a restart, single waved yellow, double waved yellow, red flags, Safety Car deployment, blue flags, and we can also transmit a black flag or a mechanical black flag.

“With this system you can set up a predetermined distance from a flag point, and I think at Bathurst it’s approximately 100 metres. So 100 metres prior to a flag point you’ll get a signal in the car if there’s a flag displayed at that flag point. That is telling you that you need to look for the flags.

“Each flag point has a handheld device. They can activate that, and that is automated straight through to the car. We don’t necessarily have to issue the flag instruction from race control. As long as it’s initiated at the flag point, it will be automatically initiated in the car.

“There is also an operator that sits in race control with the clerk of course and the race director, and if for some reason they see an incident on track and there are no yellows being waved, the race director or clerk of course can call the yellow and it can be initiated from race.

“A red flag can be initiated through the timing data. As soon as the race director and clerk of course deploy red flags the timing system goes to red, and that goes straight to the cars. The Safety Car is deployed from the race control, so as soon as the race director calls for a Safety Car it’s deployed across the system.

“And blue flags, bad sportsmanship flags, mechanical black flags and drive-through penalty flags can also be displayed from race control.”

Following that successful debut 12 months ago, the system has now become a Bathurst staple. It made its Supercars debut at the 1000 last October, and will be in operation once again at the 12 Hour this weekend.

“You can never stop crashes entirely,” concludes Stuart, “but you can do the utmost to provide as much information to the drivers as possible.” 

Following its debut, the MoTeC system has now become a Bathurst staple