In-car hazard warning system set for Bathurst 12H trial

Tom Howard

Friday 8th June, 2018 - 6:00am

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A new system has been earmarked to help prevent incidents such as the one pictured involving Ash Walsh and John Martin at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour

An in-car warning system which aims to alert drivers of upcoming hazards is expected to be trialled at next year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

The Confederation of Australia Motor Sport (CAMS) and Supercars launched investigations into the technology following a frightening crash which red flagged this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour and hospitalised two drivers.

Ash Walsh and John Martin were lucky to avoid serious injuries when the former’s stricken Audi R8 was struck at high speed on the run from Sulman Park to McPhillamy Park by an unsighted Martin, driving a Mercedes AMG GT3.

The incident triggered calls to improve safety at the circuit an in particular at the blind corner that has been witness to several high profile incidents over the years, including the death of Mark Porter in 2006, and a heavy clash between Paul Weel and Chris Pither during practice for the 2008 Bathurst 1000.

A probe into the latest incident has now led to action being undertaken to improve safety with the deployment of an in-car warning system at next year’s race from January 31 – February 3.

CAMS has confirmed to Speedcafe.com that the accident blackspot area of the track will be unchanged with the marshal post set to remain in use in conjunction with the new warning system.

The in-car system, expected to be fitted to all GT3 cars, will display a warning in the cockpit of the car when a yellow flag is deployed via an electronic device linked to the car’s ECU.

“We’ve had a couple of meetings with representatives from Supercars and we have had presentations from a couple of suppliers that could potentially supply us with an in-car warning system,” Mike Smith, CAMS operations manager told Speedcafe.com.

“It is fair to say that at the moment we have probably got a preferred supplier, and we are fairly certain that we will have an in-car warning system for the 12 Hour next year, that we will be trialling for a possible roll out into other categories and race meetings.

“Just to be clear we are not suggesting that we change or replace the flag marshal system that we currently have.

“The system we are looking at will work when a yellow flag is displayed would automatically display (a warning) in the cockpit of the car for the drivers.

“We are looking at it more from a 12 Hour point of view and how we will bring it into GT cars and I think we have found a pretty good system that we will be able to trial next year at the 12 Hour.”

The Supercars Commission is continuing to investigate the prospect of adopting a similar in-car warning system specific to Supercars, which will differ slightly from the one being run at the Bathurst 12 Hour.

The difference surround the fact that GT cars use different ECUs compared to the control component in Supercars.

A trial for that at this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is unlikely with studies at a preliminary stage.

Having been involved in the Bathurst 12 Hour crash, Martin advocates the addition of an in-car warning system which he feels would improve safety for drivers.

“There definitely needs to be something done after the incident at the start of the year,” Martin told Speedcafe.com.

“The in-car system is really good and it is travelling around with you which is really good, but at the end of the day someone still needs to push the button.

“If there is a light or something that lights up on the dash and if it is track safety issues then obviously you would take notice.

“It would definitely help and you would be able to respond.”

The sportscar stalwart would be against any changes being made to the circuit, stating that the only consideration would be moving the inside wall on the run between Sulman Park and McPhillamy Park to offer drivers a better line of sight.

“I think we should never stop searching for ways to improve safety. It is something that has come a long way over the years,” he added.

“In terms of track changes, realistically I would hate to see the track change because that is what makes it Bathurst really, it is a high commitment place.

“I hate the way some of the circuits have gone these days by extending run-offs and if you make a mistake there should be a consequence.

“There has been a lot of discussion about what could be done and I’ve heard that potentially the inside wall could be moved back to give a better line of sight.

“That is the only thing that could be a ‘maybe’ (in terms of changes).

“I know there have been a lot of crashes there over the years, but it is one of those places and you have to respect it.”

Speedcafe.com has been established to provide a daily motorsport news service to the industry and fans in Australia and internationally.

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