The Internet was abuzz with hundreds of motor racing fans gasping in amazement at the massive accident that happened at Brands Hatch yesterday. If you haven’t already seen it, prepare to be astounded by the following footage from Sunday’s SEAT Eurocup race.
Amazingly, not a single person was admitted to Brands Hatch’s medical centre following the accident. The only casualties were a rickety old fence and a trio of fold-out chairs which were quickly evacuated as Francisco Carvalho’s vehicle cartwheeled towards onlookers.
Thankfully the crowds at the Kent circuit had begun to thin out following the last WTCC race of the weekend, potentially averting a possible catastrophe. So what happens next?
Well anyone who has been to Brands Hatch recently will note that along the Cooper Straight they have erected some rather large, photographer unfriendly, catch fencing. Gone have the unrestricted views, with only Armco and wire fencing fending you away from straying onto the circuit.
These safety improvements don’t appear to have found their way along the Grand Prix section of the circuit yet, an area which typically doesn’t attract too many spectators given that it’s out in the relative wilderness. Remember also that this was the scene of Henry Surtees’ fatal accident (a year ago today in fact), with the wheel that caused the killer blow finding its way into a spectator area in this portion of the circuit.
It would be a great shame if a rare occurrence like the one we saw yesterday resulted in Brands Hatch being surrounded by high fencing, from what was really nothing more than a couple of dodgem drivers coming together.
It was an awful accident, but catch fencing in this instance probably would have made no difference what so ever, as the speed and momentum of the car as it travelled through the air would have carried it up and over any fencing anyway. It may have even worsened the situation, trapping the fleeing marshals.
If you watch the footage again, it appears that the posts supporting the Armco barriers may have caused a temporary ramp to appear, vaulting the car into the air – how else would the vehicle have become airborne from hitting a vertical barrier? Hopefully if track operators Motorsport Vision do conduct an investigation, they’ll look into better barrier maintenance and not install debris fencing as a consequence.
The beauty of the GP section at Brands Hatch is the lack of catch fencing as nearly all of the viewing areas are on the inside of the circuit. I sincerely hope there isn’t a knee jerk reaction to yesterday’s incident. I don’t need to be surrounded by cotton wool and be forced to stand a hundred yards away from the track, thanks very much.
We all know motor racing is dangerous, it says so on the ticket. So fingers-crossed that sense will prevail and they leave Brands Hatch alone.