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Comment by Marcus Schurig: Safety improvements at Le Mans

John Brooks
Comment by Marcus Schurig
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D he tragic death of Allan Simonsen at the 24h race in Le Mans has started a massive discussion on the subject of safety in motorsport. In Internet forums, as is customary today, users break through thematically and grammatically questionable ways about the, albeit fairly legitimate, question: Could Simonsen's death have been prevented?

In the past, drivers in racing died like flies. The insurance-related information on the spectator tickets that motorsport is dangerous comes from that time. The toll in blood was unbearably high.

Times have changed, fatal accidents are no longer the rule, but the exception. But anyone who gets into a racing car should be aware of the risks. Even if it sounds macabre: Professional pilots are rewarded princely because they take a risk that no one else would be willing to take.

Is Le Mans unsafe?

Two factors are decisive for the well-being of the drivers: The route safety and the vehicle safety make the difference between life and death in the event of an accident.

The route in Le Mans was criticized even before Simonsen's accident. During the track inspection before the 24h race by the FIA ​​representative Roland Bruynseraede, the organizer ACO allegedly received the yellow card: The run-off zones in the fast Porsche corners of the FIA ​​Grade 2 homologated track were allegedly objected to, as were the guard rails on the straights . The ACO urgently needs to make improvements here, if the French do not want to risk losing their license.

The Simonsen accident also revealed deficiencies in the Tertre Rouge section: trees directly behind the guard rails prevented the steel structures from absorbing energy and thus could alleviate the impact and the associated delay. Tire stacks were completely missing, the safer wall technology known from the USA with cushioning elements made of air or water cushions seems to have completely bypassed the French.

Ferrari driver Gianmaria Bruni has announced that it will not be in the coming year wanting to compete more at Le Mans if improvements are not initiated quickly. The Italian is trying in the background to build an alliance of active drivers in order to increase the pressure on the ACO and the demandsTo emphasize.

Are the GTE cars safe?

It is also a fact that the rule makers have to rethink the subject of vehicle safety, especially in the near-series GT classes. The LMP prototypes are equipped with seat boxes that ensure that the system consisting of driver fixation, belt and HANS system can function optimally.

In GT racing, something similar would be conceivable, maybe even desirable, even if the Virtue path of closeness to series should be left In Le Mans it was leaked that a major manufacturer in GTE sport had developed a ready-made seat box for its GTE racing cars - but decided not to use it in Le Mans for weight reasons. We're talking about 10, maximum 15 kilos. From my point of view and in the light of Allan Simonsen's accident, that borders on culpable omission.

To be clear: the seat box is not a panacea, but it would be a step forward. Improvements to the Le Mans track are just as indicated as to the vehicles. If no action was taken now, Allan Simonsen would have died completely in vain.

Your opinion is required: Safety first?

What conclusions should be drawn from Allan Simonsen's tragic accident at the Le Mans 24h race?


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