FIA Institute testing Armco crash safety feature
The FIA Institute has tested safety improvements to avoid the kind of accident that claimed the life of Gareth Roberts and almost cost Robert Kubica his right arm.
The Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety, working on behalf of the FIA Institute, has revealed data from Armco crash testing it carried out in Germany recently.
The new device fits around the open end of an Armco barrier to help ensure the guard rail doesn’t pierce the cabin of the car in the way it did when Craig Breen crashed on the 2012 Targa Florio, fatally injuring Roberts, and Kubica on the Ronde di Andora a year earlier.
In the test, a driverless rally-prepared Volkswagen Golf was fired at the end of an Armco barrier at almost 70mph. Covering the end of the barrier was a cylindrical steel tube slotted over the end of the barrier and filled with sand.
The 70cm diameter cylinder reduced the speed of the car by 22mph, but most importantly, the energy forced the Armco to bend and buckle upwards rather than penetrate the car.
Andy Mellor, research consultant to the Global Institute said: “There is a massive incompatibility between passenger cars and Armco ends that aren’t protected. The focus of the study was engineering a mechanism to get the Armco to buckle early enough so that the exposed end didn’t penetrate the car.”
Mellor admitted the device needs further refining but, once the revisions are complete, the cylinders are expected to be introduced to World Rally Championship events and then to national rallies.
The need to use the equipment at all levels of the sport imposed cost restrictions, said Mellor.
“We understood that cost and logistics were major factors,” said Mellor, “and we set a target of 100 euros for the installed product. Any more expensive and it could become cost prohibitive.”