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McLaughlin crash highlights driver safety concern

Tom Howard

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Sunday 3rd November, 2019 - 6:00am

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Scott McLaughln’s damaged Shell V-Power Racing Mustang following the crash at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600

Scott McLaughlin’s horrific Gold Coast 600 crash has highlighted a driver safety issue which Shell V-Power Racing is keen to address.

McLaughlin was lucky to emerge unscathed from a spectacular crash in qualifying last Sunday that registered a mammoth 43G impact.

The Supercars champion was checked over at the circuit before being transferred to hospital where he underwent  CT and MRI scans before being given the all clear from medical teams.

McLaughlin has subsequently revealed fears that he’d suffered a brain injury at the time.

Driver safety has improved greatly in recent years with the introduction of the HANS device, which restricts longitudinal head movement in heavy impacts, among several other key advances.

Supercars has also been proactive in improving cockpit safety in recent years triggered by Chaz Mostert’s Bathurst 1000 qualifying crash in 2015 that saw the Tickford Racing driver sustain a broken leg and wrist.

From 2017 the series made cockpit leg protection devices mandatory, while this season the category has trialled an in-car hazard warning light system.  

Speaking after McLaughlin’s crash, DJR Team Penske managing director Ryan Story has praised the work carried out to improve driver safety thus far.

However, he believes more could be done to restrict lateral head movement in heavy impacts and is prepared to assist the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety, CAMS and Supercars in finding a solution.

“Certainly the work that the FIA, CAMS and Supercars do with safety is tremendous,” Story told Speedcafe.com.

“We’ve seen in the last 12 months a new FIA spec for helmets, all the drivers wear carbon helmets now, that helps enormously, and the HANS device works tremendously well for longitudinal force and longitudinal style movement. 

“But the lateral head movement is something we still don’t have a solution for. 

“That’s something we can think about. That’s something we probably will give some consideration to after this incident because it’s quite frightening to think of a driver having a 43G impact at over 200 kays an hour in the lateral sense. 

“If there’s something we can do to work with the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety, CAMS and Supercars, and ultimately the FIA to bring in something, to increase the safety for the driver in that instance then certainly we will.”

While McLaughlin escaped the crash without injury, his car suffered extensive damage that has required DJRTP to build up a new Mustang for the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 from November 8-10.

The squad has been working hard to prepare the new car this week to ensure it is ready for the Pirtek Enduro Cup finale.

Such has been the tight turn around between events, the squad has allowed until Tuesday for the build to be completed, with two truck drivers put on standby to complete the trip from Queensland to Melbourne in the quickest possible time. 

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