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CAMS to review spectacular Sandown crash

Tom Howard

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Saturday 16th November, 2019 - 6:00am

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John Iafolla’s crash at Sandown Pic: Matthew Paul Photography

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport will investigate John Iafolla’s spectacular crash at Sandown to determine if any safety improvements are required at the venue.

Iafolla was lucky to emerge unscathed from a huge airborne crash that caused the red flagging and abandonment of the final Toyota 86 Racing Series race at the Melbourne circuit last weekend.

The car shot off track on the inside between Turns 6 and 7 at an unusual trajectory before climbing the armco barriers.

Iafolla was then fired into a series of frightening barrel rolls before bizarrely landing on the tray of a recovery ute, stunning the officials inside.

The driver escaped with only bruising and was released from hospital on Monday, while recovery vehicles were moved to another location at the track. 

However, the incident prompted a lengthy delay to Sunday’s schedule with the following Touring Car Masters race scratched from proceedings while repairs were made to the barriers.

It was the third delay to the three-day event as repairs were required to barriers after an incident between the esses and Dandenong Road for Toyota 86 driver Craig Thornton delayed the start of Supercars Practice 3 by almost an hour.

Officials were called to make repairs again on Saturday following a crash on the exit of Dandenong Road involving Ryal Harris and Marcus Zukanovic during a Touring Car Masters race.

Following the weekend CAMS has confirmed that it will review the Iafolla incident in particular to ascertain if changes to the facility are required.

“We are not talking about what caused the accident but the result of it,” CAMS Director of Race Operations Tim Schenken told Speedcafe.com.

“Of course we will be looking into that to see if anything failed and if anything can be done to contain the car within the barrier system. 

“Even with three high rails to contain the car within the barrier system would have been quite difficult. 

Asked if catch fencing at the area would have helped, Schenken replied: “It would have to be a fairly substantial fence because the speed of the car it would have hit it square on, so you are talking about the debris fencing being at 90 degrees to the car. 

“If it was a loose wheel, the debris fencing would have stood up.”

The incidents occurred after almost a million dollars were spent on safety upgrades to the circuit, albeit those were centred around likely crash zone Turn 6, where a tarmac run off has been installed and the retaining wall and barriers moved back.

The upgrades were largely successful with the area devoid of high profile incidents during the weekend.

Iafolla’s freak crash has prompted discussion regarding the safety of the circuit.

Mark Skaife, Chairman of the CAMS National Track Safety Advisory Committee, admitted it is very rare to see a car go off the circuit in a manner such as Iafolla’s.

Reflecting on the incident, the five-time Australian Touring Car/Supercars champion believes there is a case for more barriers closer to the track to help contain such incidents. 

“To the left, where John went in the Toyota 86, we have never seen a car in there, and that was a consequence of the contact coming down through the esses,” said Skaife on Fox Sports’ The Loud Pedal podcast.

“The second thing is, if you had your time again there is probably a case for having fences more like the barriers we use at street circuits, fences closer to the track so you try and contain the incident. 

“That also has a negative because if a car fires to the left it still rebounds in front of other cars, but it probably keeps the car in the domain that it should have been. 

“There is a lot of hindsight. I just so happen to head up the National Track Safety Committee, so I have a pack of very intelligent people telling me what we should do, so I will field the calls.”

Sandown will once again host a Supercars round next year as well as hosting the final round of the Shannons Nationals.  

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