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Red light for the draft zone – RaceRanger tech gets go ahead for Ibiza

The adoption of draft detection technology in triathlon has taken a significant step forward with today's news.

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World Triathlon have announced that the RaceRanger draft detection system will be used at the Long Distance World Championships in Ibiza on May 7th.

The system has been tested in four events so far in the southern hemisphere, the latest IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong at the weekend, but this news is another significant step.

Assistance for officials

World Triathlon confirmed in a statement: “The system will be used at the Ibiza 2023 Multisport World Championships in order to assist Technical Officials with draft marshalling. After a successful test in various races throughout this season, the system will be used by all elite athletes competing in the Long Distance World Championships on May 7, 2023.

“In collaboration with World Triathlon’s Sport Department, RaceRanger have continued to test under a trial period, where the system was thoroughly integrated in four non-drafting events in New Zealand and Australia across various distances. Feedback and evaluations from both athletes and technical officials was provided, and small adjustments were made to the system’s functionality as a result.”

Here at TRI247 we have been following this story closely, including gathering athlete feedback after Challenge Wanaka and more recently in regard to the possibility of it being used at Challenge Roth.

The wording above is interesting because RaceRanger CEO and Co-Founder James Elvery told us then that at present it should be seen as an “officiating aid” for referees rather than “the law”, with work still to be done to get it into the rulebooks, something which is expanded on by World Triathlon below.

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Red light for draft zone

And today Elvery added: “We learned a lot from our trial events. Not only did we encounter some system bugs that needed to be corrected, but more importantly, we got direct feedback from the athletes and technical officials about their experience of the system in race conditions.”

RaceRanger draft zone sticker 2023
The revised colour-coding for the various zones

A couple of key developments have now taken place as a result of that feedback, with Elvery explaining: “The main things we have adjusted have been the buffer zones. We changed what the different coloured lights refer to, and also the distance thresholds for them to change colour.”

“We now have a red light for riding within the 12m draft zone, a blue light for a 2m last warning zone from 12m to 14m, and finally an orange light for a 3m ‘first contact’ zone from 14-17m.

“The product that is available now, and that will be used in Ibiza, is finally ready to be applied to top-level competition as an officiating aid. We’d like to thank World Triathlon for the opportunity to be part of the Long Distance World Championships, and for all their support and input from the beginning of our journey to this point.”

The process of including additions to the World Triathlon competition rules, to account for RaceRanger or similar technologies in the future, will be part of World Triathlon’s standard technical process for reviewing rules. This rigorous process can take several months of work, before submission to the World Triathlon Executive Board for ratification.

Gergely Markus, World Triathlon Sport Director, said: “We see a huge potential for the RaceRanger system to improve fairness in non-drafting triathlons around the world, by removing the subjective nature of drafting penalty decisions. This includes a number of paratri categories that could feature the RaceRanger system, which we will test at the 2023 World Triathlon Para Championships that will take place in Pontevedra in September.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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