FIA makes rally armco safety breakthrough

The FIA Institute has made a potentially life-saving breakthrough in efforts to avoid the kind of rally crash that killed British co-driver Gareth Roberts and left Robert Kubica seriously injured

FIA makes rally armco safety breakthrough

A device fitted around the open end of an Armco barrier was tested in Germany recently and successfully avoided cockpit intrusion - a feature of the accidents involving both Roberts and Kubica.

The Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety, working on behalf of the FIA Institute, revealed data from a test carried out by firing a driverless but rally-prepared Volkswagen Golf at the barrier at 70mph.

The barrier was protected by a steel cylinder filled with sand, which slowed the car by 22mph on impact.

Most importantly, it deflected the Armco upwards rather than allowing it to pierce the cockpit.

Roberts was fatally injured when the Peugeot 207 S2000 he was sharing with Craig Breen crashed on the 2012 Targa Florio.

Kubica had suffered major injuries to his right arm when his Skoda Fabia hit the open end of a barrier on the Ronde di Andora a year earlier.

The FIA Institute has spent a considerable amount of time and resource looking at improving safety at the front of rally cars; the main problem with this being the incompatibility between strengthening this area while maintaining cooling capacity and efficiency.

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 and 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.

"We understood that cost and logistics were major factors," said Mellor, "and we set a target of 100euro for the installed product. Any more expensive and it could become cost prohibitive."

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