Joker Lap is one of the characteristic features of rallycross. It can be considered a tradition of this motosport!
Each track has two types of routes. The first is the main route, the second is the lap called Joker Lap. Each driver must pass him at least once during the race. Its length depends on a specific track. In the case of Red Bull GRC – Joker Lap is usually shorter than the main lap. In turn, in FIA World Championships we usually meet the extension of the section, which slows down the cars by at least 2-3 seconds.
The decision on when to drive the Joker Lap route depends only on the driver and the strategy he or she will choose. Some drivers choose it first, to have it from the head at the beginning. Still others move it at the very end. In fact – it all depends on the driver. This is a good solution when the opponent blocks the passage. The use of Joker Lap may allow a moment of release from the rival and fight for the position after returning to the traditional route. It all depends on the specific track as well as the situation in a particular race. Sometimes the Joker Lap is designated in such a way that it allows vehicles to pick up additional momentum.
The word was born in equestrian events. The paddock is a fenced square next to the racetrack, where horses are guided before the next race. It is in this place that the horses rest, wait for the next race, and then are presented to the public as well as bookmakers. In motorsports, the paddock function is similar, but has been somewhat expanded. The rallycross paddock is the back end of the race track. This is a place where drivers can make repairs and last fixes in their vehicles. It is there that the cars “rest” before the next round. It is a technical and logistic center of every driver in which the team is assembled, and very often also family or friends. It is also a common practice to invite journalists, invited guests, and faithful supporters to the paddock, who have the opportunity to talk directly to the driver. It is also an excellent opportunity to see a car taking part in the competition from up close.
The paddock is an inseparable part of motor sports. It is not only connected with rallycross competition. Very important is also in Formula One races. The teams unpack their equipment there, building facilities for further competition. Often the paddock is filled with rows of lorries and campers. Apart from races, the paddock is full of life, bringing together drivers, journalists and mechanics. It is a place of information and gossip exchange.
Penalty Box was introduced to Global RallyCross in 2013. It is a 50-meter-long lane next to the track, where drivers go to penalty during the race, usually for false start. Prior to its introduction in the case of a false start, the race was interrupted, and the driver who committed it started while resuming the race at the end of the race.
A commonly used penalty for Falstart is also an additional Joker Lap (in case it’s longer than the main route). The player must then defeat an additional several dozen meters, losing valuable seconds to the other players.
The biggest stress is born in drivers immediately before the race. The successful start depends on them and on what they have in their heads. First, the start list with the order of individual drivers is presented on the official bulletin board. In good time, drivers report to the pre-start field. The gate is opened for a period of 2 minutes in which drivers must go from the pre-start field to the starting field. After setting the cars on the starting fields and confirming the readiness of drivers, the starter signals readiness by showing the “5 SEC.” Table. At the same time, the apparatus that tests the false start is started. The start starts with the moment the green light is on the siren. It is forbidden to perform mechanical work on the vehicle and to heat the tires on the grid.
Falstart is a premature, non-regular start. It takes place when the car leaves the starting field before lighting the green light. This situation is signaled by the pulsation of red light. Falstart is detected in the electronic system via electronic sensors on the starting field. The driver who makes a false start receives a penalty in the form of an additional Joker lap pass. The two-time execution of a false start by the same driver is associated with exclusion from running and lack of points. Falstart stops running (at the latest before the end of the first lap) and then the entire start-up process starts from the beginning.
Rallycross races are built in such a way that the beginning of the race takes place on the section called the “Start Line”. Its length varies depending on the specific race track. For example, it is 114 meters on the Torun track. In the previous editions of the Polish Rallycross Championships, the players were banned from changing position at the initial stage of the race. For 60 meters they were obliged to drive straight. The fight for taking the right place on the track started only on the first curve. The solution was especially liked by drivers whose vehicles had the best acceleration. Fractions of seconds were important here! What counted was the right moment to change gear and maintain a straight line. In the latest editions of the competition, we do not find such a recipe, which indicates a departure from this principle. What is worth mentioning, already during the period of validity this rule was ignored by drivers who started the fight for position in the first meters.