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Sandown to be safer with new improvements

Speedcafe.com

Friday 15th July, 2011 - 2:00am

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Jason Bright suffered a jammed throttle during Friday practice last year, damaging his BJR Commodore

Jason Bright suffered a jammed throttle during Friday practice last year, damaging his BJR Commodore

Sandown will be a safer circuit when the V8 Supercars return to the Melbourne track in November.

The multi-purpose facility is midway through Stage 2 of its safety and circuit upgrades, including the heightening of guard rails, the removal of an earth-filled tyre wall and the improvement of the run-off area at turn one – a known car-killer in the past.

Last year, new conveyer belts were placed around new tyre walls and have been attributed to reducing the damage of cars during last year’s crash-fest at the circuit.

Sandown venue manager Wade Calderwood says that the upgrades are coming along well and will be implemented in time for the Norton 360 Sandown Challenge on November 18-20.

“All of the second stage of improvements will be complete in time for the V8 Supercars in November,” Calderwood told Speedcafe.com.

Garth Tander hit the tyre wall hard at Sandown last year

Garth Tander hit the tyre wall hard at Sandown last year

“The first year of the upgrades was all around the tyre walls and putting the conveyor belts around them.

“The second phase of the upgrades will concentrates on taking the guard rails to ‘three high’. In the past, we’ve only had two high at certain points, so now we’ll have three high all the way from turn six right up to the main straight.

“Another change we’ll have complete for November is that we’re getting rid of the old earth tyre walls at turn 12/13.

“Also, the run off at turn one will be improved. On the soil area where the cars get damaged when they go off at the back of the ripple strip, we’ve put a concrete treaded hard stand behind that. We’ll also rectify some of the soil in that area which gives it a smooth run back onto the track so when the cars rejoin, they aren’t going through undulations and fluctuations.

“Traditionally, if you have a V8 Supercar or Formula Ford or something that is low to the ground, it does a lot for damage to the cars.”

The third and final stage of the circuit’s upgrade is to resurface some of the track. Calderwood says that he does not have the budget to do the whole 3.1km surface, but will look at fixing some of the key surface areas that need addressing.

“We know there’s a large section between turn one and turn three that needs to be done, and over the back straight and the entry to turn 13,” he said.

Calderwood says he will use the track safety advisory panel, leading drivers and CAMS to work out which sections of the track need urgent attention.

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