While we all know that harnesses play an important role in safety equipment, we have often heard the expression “belts and belts” when choosing which harness to purchase. All harnesses and belts are the same.
This post will discuss the key points you should consider when choosing a motorsport harness, and clarify any confusion about the regulations.
Understanding the regulations
You will need to check the specific regulations of your chosen championships for the types of harnesses that you can use if you want to compete at the national level in the UK. You will likely need a harness that is approved by the FIA. International events require a FIA-approved harness.
These homologations are safety standards and tests that harness manufacturers must meet when making a new harness. It is crucial that a harness can withstand the forces of motorsport and protect the driver.
Current FIA homologations for 4 point harnesses are 8854-1998 and 88532016.
All harnesses that have the FIA 88532016 homologation have a 5-year maximum lifespan when used in FIA regulated events. These harnesses can be used for events in the UK that are governed by Motorsport UK for a period of 10 years.
FIA 8854-1998 Harnesses are eligible for five years, plus the year of manufacturing.
The expiry date is printed on the label of each harness strap when it is used in FIA-regulated events. You will need to add 5 year for 8853-2016 homologated (6-point) harnesses used at Motorsport UK events.
The FIA approves harnesses for use as 4 or 6 points. This refers to the number anchorage points on the vehicle, and not the number connecting points into the harness buckle. For more information on these types harnesses, please read on.
4 point harnesses
A 4 point harness is the minimum requirement to operate a car under FIA harness regulations. The harnesses have two lap and shoulder straps. These straps are required by FIA homologation. They are fastened in place with a twist-type buckle.
Due to their shoulder strap length, these harnesses can be used in GT or saloon cars. However, there are specific harnesses that are made for Caterham or Westfield cars.
A 4 point harness can be dangerous because of the possibility of submarining. The impact of an accident can cause the body’s weight to be thrown forwards by the forces. The shoulder and lap are securely secured to prevent the body from moving forward. However, if there is no crutch strap, the body can slip (or submarine) under the belts, which can result in serious injury and render the harness nearly useless.
Some 4 point harnesses (such as the Schroth) have anti submarining technology. These harnesses have a specially made section on the shoulder straps that can stretch slightly in an impact. This allows the driver’s torso to rotate slightly, and the harness will not slide underneath.
Despite the fact that 4 point harnesses have an FIA approval we recommend installing a 6-point harness for safety reasons.
6 point harnesses
A set of six-point harnesses will provide the best driver safety and security. These harnesses are the most secure and comfortable. A 6 point harness is a substantial improvement on the 4 point harnesses. It includes crutch straps that are placed between the legs to prevent submarining.
However, not all 6 point harnesses will be the same. There are two widths of webbing available, one is 2 inches, and the other is 3 inches. Some even come with a combination of both. This is because a 2″ harness belt fits more snugly over the FHR device’s wings, helping to hold it in place. An FHR device can use a 3 inch belt, but there will be an area of the belt that is over the device’s side.
6 point harnesses can be used in all types of race cars, including saloons and GT-cars through to single-seaters and prototypes. There are many options, however, because the requirements of these applications can be different.
The shoulder straps for GT racing or saloon cars are typically secured to the car’s floor behind the seat or to a bulkhead. The shoulder straps must be long enough to accommodate this type of seat and allow the driver to adjust the position. These harnesses have a longer shoulder strap.
You can trim excess webbing from the car’s shoulder straps by wrapping it around a cable tie. Once you are satisfied with the result, secure the webbing in place. This gives the car a clean appearance and stops excess webbing from bouncing around in the car.
A single-seater harness, on the other hand, is usually fastened directly behind the driver to either the tub or chassis. The shoulder straps are shorter and easier to adjust than those used in saloons.
One of the main differences between single-seater harnesses and double-seater models is the arrangement of the crutch straps. Instead of connecting to the quick-release buckle, they are threaded through the loops on the lap straps and around the tangs of the shoulder straps. The crutch straps are sent around the inner thigh to increase comfort.
Non-FIA Approved harnesses
These belts have the same webbing and fixings that the FIA approved harnesses. However, they are not suitable to be used in FIA or Motorsport UK governed competitions. The reason is that the buckles used are not homologated by FIA.
They are however suitable for use in track-day cars and certain grass roots motorsports such as short track oval or autograss racing.
3- and 4-point harnesses
These harnesses are best suited for track day use, but can also be used daily. The harnesses have an ECE approved buckle, which is very similar to the one found on a regular road car.
These harnesses are road-worthy and can be used on any surface. Some harnesses have a load spreader that expands the webbing to 3 inches. This gives you more protection for your lap in case of impact.
5 point harnesses
The 5 point harness was the standard before the advent of the 6-point harness. This was due to the addition of the belt between the legs, which was meant to prevent the driver’s submarining in an accident.
This markedly improved the 4 point harness, which was at the time the most popular in motorsport. It quickly became apparent that they were not able to prevent submarining but they didn’t make it any easier to have an accident. We know what we mean, and so will the men who read this!
Today, harnesses with a 5-point layout are limited to a buckle that is a lever latch type. Also known as a NASCAR style buckle. This type of buckle, like the 3 point harnesses is not approved by the FIA.
These harnesses are very popular in applications that may be subject to dirt and mud, such as off-road and autograss. The buckle is easy to clean and the release mechanism doesn’t fail.
You can choose from a range of fittings to attach the harness to your car. These are just a few of the many options available.
Clip-in / snap hook
This type of fixing uses a carabiner-style fitting with a spring loadedgate as part of a solid steel plate. This clip onto an eyebolt that screws into the car’s floor. This type of fixing has the advantage that it allows you to adjust the angle of your harness.
Bolt-in fittings are simply flat plates with one bolt hole. The bolt threads through the car’s body and into the load spreading plate. After the bolt has been tightened completely, the angle of your plate will be fixed. Before you secure the bolt, make sure that the harness points in the correct direction.
Some harnesses come with carabiner fittings. This type of fitting, like the clip-in fittings, is used with an eyebolt which screws into the car.
The gate section of the eyebolt is attached to a thread. To open the gate, simply unscrew the thread until it is large enough for the eyebolt to pass through. Secure the fitting by tightening the thread until it is completely closed.
These clips are available on some harnesses only, while others feature carabiner fittings at each attachment point.
Except for single-seater harnesses that have metal fittings at the ends of the shoulder straps, all harnesses are made without them. This allows the harness to be wrapped around a roll cage’s harness bar. The webbing is then fed through a slide fitting with a two- or three-bar slide. It is wrapped around the tube of the roll cage and tightened to prevent it from sliding.
Specific to your vehicle
Some harnesses can also be customized to fit specific vehicles, such as Porsche race cars. These harnesses have the right type of fixing to fit the car.
Every harness has a metal adjuster at the lap and shoulder straps to make sure you are properly strapped in. These adjusters are useful for endurance races, where drivers must change their car. They allow the driver to unfasten the harnesses before they are removed. This allows the new driver to jump in, attach the harness, and then secure themselves again.
There are two types of adjusters that you can choose from. These adjusters can be found on the shoulder straps and are made from either steel or aluminum materials. Steel adjusters can be found on entry-level harnesses. They offer some adjustment but are more difficult to use and heavier.
Aluminum adjusters are, however, lighter and can be released quickly. It is easier to unfasten the straps while vacating the vehicle. These adjusters are most common in endurance races, but they can be used for any type of competition due to their ease of use.
The lap straps can be ordered in either a pull up or pull down configuration, depending on which harness they are. This refers to the direction in which the adjuster is placed on the lap strap. The preferences of the driver and the car’s space requirements will determine the type of adjuster you choose. A pull-up configuration would be a good choice for cars with limited space beside the seats.
A few adjusters have a tag attached on the release handle. This allows you to locate the adjuster and gives you more space to manipulate the belt.
Important safety information
After you have chosen your perfect harness, it is time to install them in your car.
You will need to make sure that the harness straps are correctly aligned with the driver and seat when you decide where to mount them. These angles can be found in the MSA Yearbook which contains regulations for motorsport in Britain. They are also shown in diagrammatical format.
If using an FHR device, the shoulder straps should be positioned between 0 and 20 degrees below the horizontal. Shoulder straps can be mounted at any height from 10 to 45 degrees above the horizontal, for installations that do not require an FHR device.
The shoulder straps should not be more than 20 degrees from the vertical when looking down at the seat. This means that the right and left straps should be as close together as possible as you go back to their mounting points.
When looking side-on, the lap straps should be between 45deg to 65deg from horizontal. Crutch straps should not be more than 20 degrees from the vertical when looking at either side of the seat.
In the last few years, non-genuine harnesses have been more common. They are often manufactured to look identical to existing FIA-homologated harnesses and sometimes have the logo of a well known brand. These non-genuine harnesses sell for substantially less money than their authentic counterparts.
These harnesses are not as cheap as they seem. They have not been tested by the FIA and could have devastating consequences in an accident. Make sure you only purchase harnesses from an authorized dealer.
Our harnesses are authentic and directly sourced from the manufacturer. This means that you can be sure that your safety is maintained every time you go out on track.
This is your complete guide to harnesses, and what you should be looking out for. Our helpful sales team is available to answer any questions you may have or to offer advice. It is better to spend as little money as possible on the best harness for you. This will ensure that you are safe and secure.