JHS

A Very Lucky Escape.

10 posts in this topic

Just see this.

Very glad to report that everbody, spectactors, marshals, and the driver, escaped unhurt. Incredible.

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That was too much the close call, James. Quite sickening, actually. That was Brands Hatch, wasn't it? They must use this incident as a springboard to review that area of the track and make changes. That could have easily gone the other way and made headlines throughout Europe for all the wrong reasons.

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Yep, Brands. Pretty much a year to the day that Henry Surtees was killed in that exact meeting driving in Formula Two. Brands is a great track but things really need to be done. Motorsport will never be safe, no matter how much run off you have, and I wouldn't want Brands to get calmed down (it's one of the fair few tracks left in the world that really challenges the driver) but it wouldn't cost much to put up some catch fencing or alter barrier positions to make the track generally fan-friendly, ie they don't see a mini flying towards them.

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Okay, I'm bringing this topic back up for some discussion. I don't know if anyone was watching Superleague Formula at the weekend (I personally wasn't, as I was on holiday) but a quick scan of AUTOSPORT for the weekend's news made me stumble on this scary article.

[quote] Superleague Formula frontrunner Chris van der Drift has escaped from his horrifying crash at Brands Hatch today, during which he hit the bridge before Pilgrims Drop, with a broken ankle, injured shoulder and hand. Olympiacos racer van der Drift was battling with Roma's Julien Jousse over fifth place in the closing stages of the second race. He used his last push-to-pass on the exit of Surtees bend, and attempted to overtake Jousse on the right-hand side. As Jousse moved across at the kink, van der Drift's front-left wheel struck Jousse's right-rear, catapulting him into the air.

After striking the parapet of the bridge in mid-air, his car was launched into a dizzying series of spins, briefly catching fire, and came to rest in the middle of the track on its side. The wreckage was narrowly missed by following cars as it came to rest at the bottom of the dip in the circuit.

After being stabilised at the scene, where he was conscious and talking to medics, van der Drift has been taken to hospital in Dartford. It is understood he will undergo a surgical procedure on his injured hand this evening.

Jousse said of the incident: "I knew he was there, but he came so quickly. I was a bit slow, because I was on worn tyres, and I didn't want to protect my position from him. I stayed on the right and I thought he'd pass me on the left."

[img]http://cdn.images.autosport.com/space.gif[/img][/quote]

Sure enough, I soon found footage of the crash on YouTube [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXkTFocu6ho"]here[/url].

For me, this sort of is it for Brands. I've defended them over the past few years, I defended Surtees' death at the track just over a year ago, I defended it again after that horrifying SEAT crash a few weeks ago when people were calling an end for spectators at the loop. But, now, I've found myself losing patience with the place.

Seriously, I have no doubts about it. Right now Chris van der Drift is lucky to be alive, and fortunate also to get away with so few injuries. He probably owes his life to the quick action of the medical staff and marshalls at the track and the safety of modern day racing cars.

Something needs to give. Brands hatch is suffering a really bad patch currently is terms of these incidents, one death and two injuries is not acceptable in modern day motorsport, when we hear so much about it being "so safe". Why is it then, if it's not the cars, that there are these huge accidents, again and again? It doesn't take much tor realise that the track is at fault. Sure, motorsport is dangerous, it says so on the back of every ticket you buy. Fans, marshalls and racers go to these events knowing these risks and freak accidents (of which, sadly, we've seen a fair few in the last 12 months) can and do happen.

But Brands Hatch HAS to take some responsibility now. It doesn't take much out of all the revenue Brands and MSV (who look after the venue) will get through this year to get rid of bridges like that and place underpasses instead, put newer, better barriers up in better positions, even put some catch fencing up at some new places too. I don't mean by any means make Brands sanitised with huge run off areas and slow sections of the track to reduce speeds, not at all. The track, and espacially the GP loop, it about 20 years out of date for modern motorsport. Over the years, yes, cars have got safer and safer than 20 years ago, but they've also got quicker and quicker too.

Brands Hatch, regardless, is a top class venue, for fans and drivers alike. The facilities are brilliant as ever with MSV, the fans have a excellent time and the drivers love driving around a track that is still today considered one of the most technical and demanding in the world, not just on UK's shores. But safety is paramount. Maybe I'm beating up on on Brands unnecessarily, just seeing these freak accidents and making the link with the venue that they've all happened at. Maybe Brands won't have another series accident for 1 or 2 years, maybe (and hopefully not) several big accidents will happen at another venue and I'll change my tone and voice my opinion on them too.

But, I have no doubt about it in the fact that the loop is currently unsuitable for cars capable of 200mph. Right now, Brands have a serious decision to make. They can either spend a bit of money bringing the track up to current standings or say goodbye to hosting these big events. I laugh at the thought that not ages ago, Brands were thinking about the possibility of holding the British Grand Prix. Hopefully when DTM comes to Brands a bit later on, there won't be any more serious accidents, otherwise that WILL put the last nail in Brands Hatch's coffin.

For now though, I'll say this. Get well soon Chris Van der Drift. Hopefully he'll make a quick, full recovery from his injuries that he has sustained and we'll see him back on the race track again soon. Edited by JHS

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