Motorsport News - Le Mans
More safety improvements for 24 Heures du Mans
7th June 2012
This year a certain number of improvements have been made to the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit to continue reinforcing safety for the all the people involved in the event – drivers, spectators, local residents, journalists, marshals, etc.
The first job was resurfacing the Les Hunaudières straight. Between 18th July and 5th August 2011 the famous straight was resurfaced over 5.4 km between the Tertre Rouge and Mulsanne corners with the exception of a small section near the Mulsanne hump. The work was done by the Colas Company after a tender put out by the Syndicat Mixte of the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit under the supervision of the Sarthe General Council. The special bitumen laid down was tested by the drivers for the first time on Sunday during the test day. “It’s much better,” said Allan McNish the Audi driver who set the fastest time on 3rd June. “It gives more grip and the little bumps have been ironed out. Lap times will be quicker.”
Another major works was the creation of a run-off area at Arnage requested by the Federation Internationale de l’Automoble (FIA). Its total surface is around 550m2 and it has a gravel trap. The radius of the corner hasn’t been modified. An additional marshal’s post, 110 bis, has been installed nearby to ensure safety and rapid intervention for the cars that have gone off there.
In addition, new modular screens have been installed on Les Hunaudières to protect the houses that are under 50 m from the track. This meets the demands of the Sarthe Prefecture, and the National Circuits Examination Commission (CNEC), which depends on the Ministry of the Interior. These protective screens were created at the request of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and then tested at the FIA Institute in Switzerland during special destructive testing. These modular screens can be put in and removed very quickly; they will replace or complete the fencing already in place on this section of the circuit, which takes more time to install and remove. 830 m of these screens have been put in for the 2012 race in nine different zones. A further 800 m will be installed in 2013. Finally, over two kilometers will be protected. Like the previous fencing they are covered by opaque green sheeting to dissuade the residents from getting too close to the screens to see the cars in action. This ensures their safety in case an out-of-control vehicle should hit the protective screens.
Twenty exposed marshals’ posts will also benefit from these new revolutionary screens.
Finally, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has also reinforced the safety of the people working at the trackside. Everybody on the pits straight now has to wear helmets be they track marshals, controllers, photographers, cameramen etc. This measure has been taken to limit the consequences of being hit by a moving car. On the circuit itself red zones have been marked out in the passages protected by guardrails or concrete walls on which there is no fencing. People travelling on the safety road or behind the guardrail are now forbidden to park there.
Motor sport is dangerous. All those involved in the race are aware of this and they discovered the new measures put in place during the test day.
The 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours
3rd round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship
Dates: 16-17 June 2012
General enclosure ticket: 69 euros
Free for young people born after 17th June 1996 accompanied by an adult.
Scrutineering and admin. checks: Sunday 10th (14h30 – 19h00) and Monday 11th June (10h00 – 18h00).
Wednesday 13th June: Free practice from 16h00 till 20h00, qualifying from 22h00 till midnight.
Thursday 14th June: qualifying from 19h00 till 21h00 and from 22h00 till midnight.
Start of the 80th Le Mans 24 Hours: Saturday 16th June 2012 at 15h00.
Information and reservations: lemans.org
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