Supercars teams set to meet leg protection deadline
The Wilson Security Sandown 500 will see the entire Supercars grid run the new mandatory cockpit safety upgrades for the first time.
The championship issued a directive in April confirming teams must equip their cars with extra leg protection from the opening round of the Pirtek Enduro Cup at Sandown next month.
Supercars’ move followed extensive research into lessening the risk of leg injuries in incidents, following Chaz Mostert’s 2015 Bathurst qualifying crash, which resulted in a broken leg among other injuries.
After being issued with a design brief for the device, teams have taken various directions to meet the criteria, with all squads expected to meet the Sandown deadline.
“All teams have submitted their designs which have been approved and are being implemented ahead of Sandown,” Supercars sporting and technical director David Stuart confirmed to Speedcafe.com.
“Some teams have chosen to engineer and manufacturer their own while others have purchased leg protection systems from suppliers.
“All systems meet the safety requirements.”
DJR Team Penske has led the way by implementing its own leg protection device almost exactly a year ago.
A one-piece carbon fibre tray, resembling a similar concept used by Penske’s NASCAR squad, has been developed by the Queensland team and produced by Toowoomba’s LSM Advanced Composites.
The system features the mandatory FIA padding designed to help prevent leg injuries.
Fellow Ford squad Prodrive are among the teams alongside Walkinshaw to have adopted this design.
Triple Eight has developed its own concept in-house which was tested for the first time in Craig Lowndes’ Commodore at the Red Rooster Sydney Super Sprint, earlier this month.
Tekno Autosports and Preston Hire Racing, who both operate Triple Eight built Holdens, will debut the design at Sandown.
Nissan Motorsport and Garry Rogers Motorsport have also taken a similar approach by designing their own systems.
Both concepts were tested at Sydney Motorsport Park with Nissan reporting that its device met the team’s requirements.
Rick Kelly trialled the upgrade in his #15 Altima throughout the weekend.
Team manager Scott Sinclair doesn’t expect any of the devices to provide an extra challenge or delay during driver changes in the enduros.
“Rick was happy with it, he had a couple of concerns going in but he was pleased with it,” Sinclair told Speedcafe.com.
“The driver change really all depends on where your first leg goes when you get in. The rest of your body just slides through and you just fall into the seat. It might actually help (the speed of changes) a little bit.
“I don’t see there being any change in that sense. Once you know what you are dealing with I think the guys will adapt quickly.”
Erebus Motorsport has arguably had the least amount of work to ensure its cockpits meet the new rules.
The squad has run a carbon fibre E-cell safety seat, developed by HWA in Germany, in its cars since 2013.
Initially designed for the outfit’s Mercedes AMG Supercar, the E-Cell has been adapted to the Commodore and has now been fitted with a carbon fibre leg protection tray, featuring the FIA control padding.
Meanwhile, Brad Jones Racing and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport have both purchased already existing devices for their cars.