Maybe it's about time to find a better safety alternative than tire walls on road racing circuits.
Two major incidents at during the IMSA weekend at Virginia International Raceway raised some questions about the barriers of wrapped and linked tires used by many road racing tracks and series, including Formula 1.
These barriers have proven effective at absorbing and spreading energy upon impact. The systems have come a long way from the days of simply stacking tires. But the arrival of the SAFER barriers on ovals begs the question of continuing to use such an old-fashioned method that may be more cost effective than safe on road circuits.
In the absence of any new inventions, location and placement of tire barriers is also a concern.
When David Brule hit the barrier on the driver’s right at Turn 4, his Porsche 911 GT3.R bounced back onto the track and into the middle of the groove. His driver side door was left exposed, but fortunately he was running at the tail end of the field near the start of the race. Brule was seen walking away from the incident.
Misha Goikhberg plowed his Lamboghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 into the tire barrier at Turn 14 at the end of the back straight. While the barrier absorbed much of the heavy impact, it was thrown into the air. Goikhberg also appeared to be uninjured. But a driver trapped under a load of tires if a fire breaks out can be problematic, a problem accentuated if the tires catch fire.
Earlier in the weekend, the MX-5 Cup raced their open cockpit vehicles at the high-speed VIR, which has experienced at least three deaths since it re-opened in 2000.