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WTCC Vila Real: Changes made to joker lap for safety reasons

Vila Real joker lap practice 2017

World Touring Car Championship officials will alter the Vila Real joker lap ahead of Sunday's two races after teams expressed their concerns about the speeds of cars rejoining the circuit.

The Portuguese street circuit's joker lap - the first to be used in the series - takes an alternative route around the Turn 26 roundabout and forces cars to slow for a tighter left-right sequence before taking the corner.

But team managers have voiced concerns over the speed differential between cars taking the normal exit from the corner and those rejoining after taking their jokers, with the potential for contact on the racing line deemed high risk by a number of drivers.

As a result, the joker lap lane has been narrowed and its length extended, to give those on the conventional line additional room on the run to the first corner as well as allowing those finishing their joker to get up to speed.

An extra session has been added to the Sunday afternoon schedule to allow drivers to acclimatise to the extended exit.

A statement released by officials read: "Following free practice 1 and free practice 2 at FIA WTCC Race of Portugal yesterday (Saturday), team managers expressed their concerns over the implementation of the 'joker' lap exit, specifically regarding cars leaving the alternative route and cars exiting the final corner of the conventional lap.

"Those concerns have been heard by FIA officials and following consultation with drivers and team managers, a proposal was made to narrow the exit of the 'joker' lap and lengthen the exit line by approximately 15 metres to reduce the risk of the crossing of racing lines as a means of addressing safety concerns.

"The local event organiser has made the separation line not only longer but more visible and the event timetable has been amended, following the approval of the FIA stewards, to allow for a 15-minute reconnaissance at 13h30 to allow drivers to experience the new layout."

In the event of a wet race being declared, it has also been decided that the joker lap will not be used.

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