FIA In­sti­tute test­ing Armco crash safety fea­ture

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

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.”

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