A new death in Racing

Posted by Carlitox 
A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 12:57AM
Posted by: Carlitox
Sad news for all of us racing lovers.

Earlier today, the first round of the Copa Chevrolet Montana from Brazil was closed with the fatal crash of Gustavo Sondermann. In the video below you can see (barely) what happened.



Sondermann died due to severe brain injuries, basically a basilar skull fracture, the most common cause of death of racing drivers.

What it's strange is the spot where he crashed. An extremely fast corner. Also one of my favourites, until today. I feel it's necessary to do something about it, but what?
Turning it into a chicane seems to be the best option, building a large escape area is another good one. But something must be done. That corner is very similar to another one, whose name itself makes racing lovers turn their heads down: Tamburello.

Three drivers have died in that spot: Rafael Sperafico (Stock Car Light Series, 2007), João Lisboa (Amateur, 2011) and now Sondermann. Webber and Alonso crashed there heavily in 2003, and I still remember how difficultly Alonso climbed out of his car.

Post your opinions about it, especially if you're brazilian and you know something about either the track or the series, or just if you want to say something.

RIP Gustavo Sondermann (1982-2011)


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Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 10:17AM
Posted by: loren
I can't really tell what happened there. Did he get hit by another car? IIRC that's been the cause of some of the other accidents at that corner. I've never considered it much of a corner, but with no runoff it is obviously a danger if a car does go off there.
Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 01:50PM
Posted by: senninho
A real shame :(

I think you're right with the Tamburello comparison - it's really not a problem corner until something goes wrong, and then all you have is a concrete wall. It's the sort of corner where it isn't possible to have a small accident.

I guess it also has the same problem as Imola when it comes to track surroundings - they can't really build a run-off for the corner. Do they use a SAFER barrier on that part of the track?



Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 02:30PM
Posted by: DaveEllis
Quite a lot has gone wrong at that corner though, but it rarely ends in death until these generic Brazilian series turn up.

It's a lethal combination. Massive engines, big slick tyres, light cars with fibreglass bodies and outdated space frames that can't cope with the impacts they are having. You can give it 10 miles of run off, but eventually a T-Bone situation will occur again, and the result will be the same.

Salles accident didn't end in death, but the car is *completely* destroyed despite not having 1 massive impact, but rather a series of small ones in a roll over.





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Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 04:31PM
Posted by: Guimengo
He died because after going off, he was sent back to the track due to no run off (which is the current proposal to solve that). He was hit by 3 cars, similar to the T-bone that happened 3 years ago in that same corner. It's been 3 deaths in 3 years in that corner now, and Alonso/Webber got lucky in 2003. A chicane would kill it, they can definitely do a nice run off there.




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Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 04:41PM
Posted by: DaveEllis
Guimengo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> He died because after going off, he was sent back
> to the track due to no run off (which is the
> current proposal to solve that). He was hit by 3
> cars, similar to the T-bone that happened 3 years
> ago in that same corner. It's been 3 deaths in 3
> years in that corner now, and Alonso/Webber got
> lucky in 2003. A chicane would kill it, they can
> definitely do a nice run off there.

He died because the cars are fast, with space frames from the 60s. They create impacts they can't possibly cope with. If you removed that barrier then you're just delaying the death. A T-bone situation will occur eventually, and a driver will die because the cars can't cope. DTM cars are also thin bodywork (in this case carbon fibre, compared to Brazils fibreglass) with very little energy absorbing materials, but the DTM cars have modern spaceframes designed to take the impacts they can create. Case in point is Tom Ks accident at Hockenheim. Whilst he was injured, it was relatively minor, not life threatening and he made a full recovery.

You can stuck chicanes in every straight in Brazil if you want, but it won't make those cars anything more than rolling dangerous @#$%& boxes.

And one of the deaths with a motorcycle rider. With all due respect, that's a completely different type of death that can't be included in the list with the cars. That's like saying if a plane crashed on that corner then we'd have 70 deaths there. It's a completely different set of safety standards you need for bikes. Given this circuit holds an FIA Grade 1 certificate, it clearly isn't that bad.

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2011 04:43PM by DaveEllis.
Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 05:31PM
Posted by: phatdaddy
You might try "SAFER" barriers there like they run on the oval tracks in the US. These barriers absorb the impact without bouncing the car back onto the track. Also I wonder if the driver was wearing a "HANS" device to lessen the severity of head and neck injuries.

Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 06:20PM
Posted by: Carlitox
HANS System is standard for 99% of the racing series homologated by FIA. Here in Uruguay, where our fastest racing cars barely reach more than 210 km/h, the system is compulsory, even though big crashes happen once or twice a year. So I definitely think that Stock Car drivers use it.

Also, I completely agree with DaveEllis. These are Silhouette Cars, just an extremely thin bodywork just to resemble the original car. Under that, there is basically the engine, the gearbox, the cockpit and the roll cage. The difference is that Brazilian Stock cars seem to lack in security. I've seen worse crashes in NASCAR, and the drivers just walk out. Another DTM example is Alexandre Premat in Adria last year. Take a look:



Horrifying. And he just got away.

Maybe stronger roll cages and special seats like those in NASCAR would be initially useful.


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Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 07:01PM
Posted by: senninho
Oh, I didn't know about the car design - I guess that could really turn any moderate accident into something far worse. Maybe this will serve as the wakeup call that NASCAR received a few years ago?



Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 08:33PM
Posted by: Guimengo
Being Brazil, I highly doubt it they'll go for modifying the car's structure. By giving a run off they'll at least stop with this bouncing back onto full-speed traffic. It is a very short-term solution that is only solving the issue of bouncing back at that corner, it won't stop cars from being heavily damaged as pointed out above by Dave and Carlos.




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Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 04, 2011 10:40PM
Posted by: loren
From looking at the layout, it would take some serious work to build a runoff area there, including relocating a lot of grandstands. And unfortunately Interlagos is not exactly known for spending a lot of money on track improvements.

There also isn't good visibility on the inside there, and no room to expand on the inside due to the hill and the other corner (bico do pato). Probably one of the the few fast corners in the world (another is the tunnel at Monaco) where you have no runoff to either side, which makes it really tough to avoid these multi-car accidents. Interestingly, there looks to be an old chicane right before the area where the crash happened. Probably wouldn't cost too much to refurbish that, and use it for the local races at least.

I completely agree about the safety of these cars though. Sounds a bit like the stuff you see at the local races here in the states, or worse, but with room to get up to some serious speeds.
Re: A new death in Racing
Date: April 05, 2011 01:26AM
Posted by: Guimengo
There's an outcry from our Brazilian Murray Walker, there's definitely pressure for change. Remember that in Brazil a lot of things are only achieved via emotional appeal.




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