A few months ago, an accident during the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nurburgring led to the death of a spectator. This is the sort of thing that motorsports organizations have made big advances in preventing, and officials at the ’Ring took immediate steps to keep it from happening again. That meant, among other things, the implementing of a speed limit until all factors that might affect safety on the course could be evaluated. That has now been done, and it was announced that Nurburgring officials now have a plan to lift the limit once the new safety measures are in place.

The bulk of the changes are to focus on spectator safety, which certainly makes sense given what motivated these changes. This will mostly mean new fences and guardrails, in accordance with FIA regulations governing such things. There will also be a section of the track that will be resurfaced; about 500 meters of particularly bumpy surface resulting from extensive wear. The fences and guardrails will theoretically better protect spectators in the even of a crash, but the resurfacing will hopefully keep the accidents from happening in the first place, which would ultimately be far preferable.
Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

A speed limit on a racetrack does sound fairly absurd, but concerns about safety are obviously real. The repealing of the limit won’t be so simple though. Track officials first have to submit a schedule for the proposed track improvements to both German and international governing bodies (i.e. the FIA), and these have to approve first the schedule and then the improvements themselves once they’re completed. There is no reason to expect that it won’t be approved, and hopefully we’ll be seeing business as usual (only safer) back at the Nurburgring.

Press Release

18. August 2015
Greater safety on the Nordschleife

capricorn Nürburgring GmbH presents catalogue of measures
Objectives: greater safety, no speed limits, renewal of circuit approval
Unique character of the "Green Hell" will be preserved
Industry, associations, organisers and drivers: consent at round table
Next step: DMSB submits application to International Automobile Federation FIA

Nürburg. The Nürburgring’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 Nürburgring 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 Nürburgring 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 Nürburgring 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 Nürburgring, 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.

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