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Driver-error fatalities


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#1 Martyj

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 17:49

Got to thinking reading a recent Jim Clark thread and the discussions of the cause of the Hockenhiem accident.

There have been many driver fatalities where they are the clear victims of something failing on the car (McLaren, Scott Brayton, Rindt, etc.) There are also those circumstances where a driver is caught up in a wreck, like Peterson and Eddie Sachs, or one of those "that's just racing" scenarios, like Dale Ernhardt or Von Trips.

Then there are those examples of split second bad luck (like Villenueve and Vukovich) where the driver in perfect control of the circumstances makes an unfortunate decision. Often, too, there are questionable circumstances, where no one is really for sure what was the source of the crash (such as Senna)

My question is how many driver deaths can we, unquestionably, clearly attribute solely to driver error. Off the top of my head, I can think of one:

Stephan Bellof

There must be others. The following I don't know all the details, but I suspect they, too, were victims of driver error:

Ricardo Rodriquez
Peter Collins
F. Cevert
Piers Courage

Can someone clear me up on these four drivers, or perhaps add more names to the list?

Also, what were the cause of the wrecks of:

Gregg Moore
Roland Ratzenberger
Elio DeAngelis
Jo Siffert

Thanks.

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#2 Martyj

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 17:52

Just thought of one:

Bandini

#3 Barry Boor

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 17:57

I believe the theory on the Ratzenberger accident was that on the previous lap he ran off the track onto the grass and damaged his front wing mounting. Instead of stopping to investigate, he went on to another quick lap and the wing mounting failed causing catastrophic loss of front downforce and hence a high speed impact with the armco on the approach to Tosa.

For Greg Moore and Elio, I suspect the simple 'loss of control' but I stand to be corrected on those 2.

As for Seppi.... This was not loss of control due to going too fast in a bend. The car went out of control on a straight piece of Brands Hatch. I can't remember whether tyre or suspension failure was cited. Someone with old Autosports will no doubt enlighten....

#4 arthurive

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 18:06

It's really hard to categorize fatalities in the manner that you are attempting, because
there is often some measure of culpability on the driver himself, even those situations that
you may wish to categorize as "no fault of his own".
Two fatalities that I'd like to mention are Alberto Ascari and Elio deAngelis.

Ascari was of course, injured at Monaco approximately two weeks earlier and was eager
to get back behind the wheel of a racecar, prior to the next GP which was at Belgium on
5 June 1955.
He went to Monza at the request of his friend Eugenio Castellotti and decided to have a
go in the Ferrari sportscar, that Castellotti was using. I forgot the type of Ferrari but it
was not an F1 car. The car was reportedly known to have some rather nasty handling
characteristics and Alberto "lost it" after doing a few laps. He was thrown clear and killed
to due massive injuries. Some have blamed the Engelbert tires that Ferrari used and others
say that Ascari was simply pushing too hard in a totally unfamiliar car that had snap oversteer.

Elio deAngelis was killed at Paul Ricard in May 1986. This one was a true tragedy.
It was a test session, and in those days, there were scant medical facilities at test sessions.
The Brabham BT55 was believed to have suffered a rear wing failure on the Mistral straight
and flipped over. The injuries to deAngelis were non life threatening, but from what I've read
he suffocated. He was trapped in the damned car and his breathing became affected due
to some restriction. Anyone who knows the complete story, please correct/elaborate.

#5 Barry Boor

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 18:14

The de Angelis accident may well have been wing failure but not on the Mistral.

It was in the very fast curves after the pit straight. This led to the shortening and hence spoiling of another of the world's circuits. (Albeit, not a great one IMHO)

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 19:48

Originally posted by arthurive
It's really hard to categorize fatalities in the manner that you are attempting, because
there is often some measure of culpability on the driver himself, even those situations that
you may wish to categorize as "no fault of his own".


I think I have to agree that arthurive has good a point Martyj. Some times drivers have to make a decision based on a guess which turns out wrong. This is quite easy to do in regards to car damage, road conditions or so forth. I think that quite often, as in aviation, it is a combination of factors. A friend of mine once had to take the hit on an aviation accident when perhaps the biggest reason for it being "pilot error" was, as he put, "...getting in the damn cockpit."

I think it was discussed elsewhere at least once, but I have long thought that the Engleberts were either the cause -- or a significant portion of the cause -- for Ascari's death.

#7 Martyj

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 20:23

I suppose I could agree that catagorizing the majority of the accidents allows for many grey areas of interpretation, and in most cases a variety of factors come into play.

What I'm looking for, per my original question, are circumstances where there are no gray areas. The car is fine and other cars and drivers are not forcing the issue. Where it is a clear cut example of a driver simply pushing the envelope too far. Taking the big gamble with speed or overtaking that goes wrong in the worst way.

My understanding is Bellof tried a banzai move.

Now that I think about it, Bandini was fatigued, so maybe his case doesn't measure the same as Bellof.

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 20:43

Originally posted by Barry Boor

As for Seppi.... This was not loss of control due to going too fast in a bend. The car went out of control on a straight piece of Brands Hatch. I can't remember whether tyre or suspension failure was cited. Someone with old Autosports will no doubt enlighten....


John Surtees was an eye witness. He reported passing Schenken and following siffert's car at a reasonable distance because of something that was being sprayed from the engine. then the spray stopped, and, going into the dip just before Hawthorn, the rear of the BRM exploded, showering the Surtees. The BRM careered to the left and burst into flames when it hit the bank.




Siffert died from asphyxia due to fire. His only injury was a broken leg. Asked by the Coronor how long it would be before a person would die in these circumstances, Dr Keith Randall, consultant pathologist said, "one minute would be sufficient after the commencement of the fire." He added, "One can certainly say that had there been no fire he wouldn't have died".

#9 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 20:52

Gonzalo Rodriguez at Laguna in 99

Ayrton Senna possibly. Not a 'driver error' but simply went too fast for the conditions. Still and will be long debated though

#10 deangelis86

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 21:09

Originally posted by arthurive

Elio deAngelis was killed at Paul Ricard in May 1986. This one was a true tragedy.
It was a test session, and in those days, there were scant medical facilities at test sessions.
The Brabham BT55 was believed to have suffered a rear wing failure on the Mistral straight
and flipped over. The injuries to deAngelis were non life threatening, but from what I've read
he suffocated. He was trapped in the damned car and his breathing became affected due
to some restriction. Anyone who knows the complete story, please correct/elaborate.


As Barry Boor has already said, it happened at the very fast s bend at la Verrerie after the pits.

Full story at my homepage: http://www.geocities...ey_uk/page2.htm

#11 Schummy

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 22:42

About Siffert's accidents, in that time I read in "Autopista" that his BRM had a chassis failure, but I don't know the precission of the source.

#12 Don Capps

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 22:50

Originally posted by Martyj
I suppose I could agree that catagorizing the majority of the accidents allows for many grey areas of interpretation, and in most cases a variety of factors come into play.

What I'm looking for, per my original question, are circumstances where there are no gray areas. The car is fine and other cars and drivers are not forcing the issue. Where it is a clear cut example of a driver simply pushing the envelope too far. Taking the big gamble with speed or overtaking that goes wrong in the worst way.

My understanding is Bellof tried a banzai move.

Now that I think about it, Bandini was fatigued, so maybe his case doesn't measure the same as Bellof.


Martyj, see how tricky it gets? Bandini's accident was "driver error" just as much as say, von Trips at Monza. Bandini pushed the envelope and the envelope pushed back just as hard as it did for Taffy or perhaps Stefan.

#13 stevew

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 22:54

Gordon Smiley, turn 3, at Indy...

He was going to get a 200mph qualifying run out of a car capable of about 196mph...

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 00:11

Bevan Gibson knew the front of his Elfin 400 was lifting over the last hump at Bathurst in 1969... after practice he'd asked for a wing to be made, but the team decided that such aerodynamic changes made hastily and without the opportunity to test could be disastrous.

He was then incited by a misfire in Matich's leading car to go that bit harder, including going faster over the hump than he'd predetermined was past the safe limit... the car was inverted at 160mph and he had no chance.

Entirely the fault of him taking a chance he'd discussed and decided not to take...

#15 Pyry L

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 07:35

Wasn┬┤t John Woolfes fatal crash at Le Mans in 1969 put down to driver error? Also IIRC Herbert Mullers crash at the 1981 Nurburgring 1000 KM race happened when he lost control of his 908.03 Turbo for unknown reasons and crashed into the abandoned 935 of Bobby Rahal. One question on my part is that what were the circumstances surrounding the death of Helmut Koinigg at Watkins Glen in 1974?

#16 mikedeering

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 07:52

Difficult subject. I wasn't too familiar with the Bellof incident until I saw some pictures posted on this BB - it does appear he tried a somewhat reckless move on Ickx going into Eau Rouge - but then equally I have heard reports that the Porsche 956 was a dangerous car. So Bellof probably made an error of judgment, but this was compounded by the fact he was in a dangerous car...would he have survived in another car? Who knows.

As for Bandini - again - not due to recklessness - just a tiny mistake through fatigue that was made worse by the botched rescue attempt. I read a quote from Denny Hulme IIRC, that another driver made a similar mistake the following year (when armco had replaced hale at the chicane) and didn't even lose the lead...

As already stated, fatal accidents are invariably due to a combintation of factors all occuring at one time...

#17 Uwe

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 18:23

Originally posted by Martyj

My question is how many driver deaths can we, unquestionably, clearly attribute solely to driver error. Off the top of my head, I can think of one:

Stephan Bellof

And even this one is questionable. There are several people putting the blame on Ickx, saying that he opened the door, inviting Stefan to overtake and closed it afterwards, sending him into the wall.

http://www.izdebski....e/das_ende.html

The text says:
"Stefan and Ickx took their cars after a pit stop from their team mates. Ickx managed to return to the track with an advantage of 5 secs to Bellof on the Brun Porsche. Within shortest time the faster Bellof closed up on the works Porsche. Ickx blocked Stefan for three laps by all means. After La Source he suddenly rushed to the right (see drawing), a clear invitation to overtake. Stefan took it and was already besides Ickx when he (Ickx) pulled left into Eau Rouge and pushed Bellof away."

I didn't see the race so I cannot comment on it.

#18 Redliner

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 21:45

Just to put my opinion in. . . .

Cevert, I have always understood, was blinded when he vomited into his helmet (I dont know why), this lead to him clipping the armco and sent him barrelling across the trackinto the other barrier and his fate.

THis therefor cannot be considered driver error I beleive. I agree with the view that a great number of factors contribute to a tragedy. Villenueve made a snap decision and it was the wrong one, but whose not to say Mass wouldn't have moves the other way. Noone saw Clark or Ascari go to their deaths, but we can assume that it wasn't driver error, (almost 100% vertain of that in Clarks case). As for Bellof, maybe Icxx squeezed him, maybe he was just too young too fast and too brash.

What matters is there is never one sole factor that contributes to a death, a perfect example, what if Rindt had done up his belts properly? Would he still be with us?

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 00:46

Can we be sure he didn't vomit as a result of the first hit?

I know it's sickening, but it's also true that Max Stewart vomited into his helmet when he had his fatal crash, but it was as a result of the crash.

And wouldn't Rindt still have lost a mass of blood? Maybe the question should relate more to the slowness of the assistance?

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#20 LittleChris

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 09:21

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Can we be sure he didn't vomit as a result of the first hit?


Ray,

I'm sure that there's an eyewitness account somewhere else on the forum stating that Cevert appeared to vomit before losing control.

Chris

#21 Mark Beckman

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 10:06

Redliner why are you 99% sure Clark didnt make a mistake?

"During practice, Clark was not happy with the car or the race conditions. First, the fuel metering unit acted up and he missed the initial practice session. Second, once he got to practice, Clark, who had never before raced on the Hockenheim track, spun the Lotus 48 in the stadium section of the track and pitted to check the brake balance. Third, although the morning rains had eased up by race time, the track was still wet as the race got underway and the car was fitted with new compound Firestone wets. Another aspect of the day that was different for Clark was the absence of Colin Chapman, who was not at the race on Sunday but was instead en route to St. Moritz for a family holiday".

Part text from.....
http://www.atlasf1.c...iew/okeefe.html

Apparently according to Max Mosley who easily passed Hill in the race, the Team Lotus Firestone tyres were quite a poor tyre.

I think theres enough evidence to null and void any "not the driver claim", maybe Clark made less mistakes than others but he was fallible too.

As for Senna, I am certain it was 100% car after watching the incar, he was holding his head clearly against the G forces (the car was travelling in a reasonably constant arc) and when the car suddenly stops turning, his head jerks to the side as a reaction to this unexpected event.

#22 Geza Sury

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 17:52

No-one mentioned Achille Varzi yet. He was regarded as a courageous but very safe driver, who had never had a serious accident. His first real mistake was to claim his life. You can read his biography in Dennis David's excellent site. Just click here.

#23 CÚtÚrouge

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 18:43

Jo Schlesser's death can also be imputated to a driver mistake. He hit the the embankement of The Nouveau Monde slope at Reims in 1968 (his sole F1 race and the sole race of the Honda V12 RA302, that Surtees refused to develop because he felt it was a dangerous car) and then his damaged car caught fire (a case comparable to Bandini's accident at Monaco). People said that Schlesser maybe died of suffocation by inhaling gas from his fire extinguisher). Schlesser was very popular and his death deeply marked the motorsport circle in France, it's in remembrance of Jo Schlesser that Guy Ligier named all his sportcars after Jo Schlesser's initials.

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#24 Barry Boor

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 18:55

One or two minor points, Ceterouge; it was not Reims but Rouen and the accident happened well before Nouveau Monde. In fact, I believe it was at the notorious Six Freres bend, which looks so innocuous on foot but then in an F1 car in the wet....... In the dry too, sadly.

#25 Vitesse2

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 19:11

Also, it was not Schlesser's only F1 race. It was, however, his only World Championship race and, IIRC, his only outing in a 3-litre F1 car.

#26 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 22:05

And also a V8...

Thanks for the second pic, it's never been on here before, I don't think... looks like an early Porsche, doesn't it?

#27 Doug Nye

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 23:50

Originally posted by Pyry L
One question on my part is that what were the circumstances surrounding the death of Helmut Koinigg at Watkins Glen in 1974?


I had the misfortune of witnessing the start of that incident - the good fortune not to witness at close quarters the result, as the poor young man was decapitated. It was not a driver error that sent him off...

It was not a technical failure on behalf of anybody in any way connected with the car, its wheels or tyres which converted the incident into an immediate fatality...

DCN

#28 CÚtÚrouge

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Posted 25 July 2002 - 23:58

Sorry for the errors about Schlesser's story.


Death of two talented drivers who hasn't got the career they deserved, Manfred Winkelhock and Jo Gartner, remain unexplained. Nobody knows exactly why Winkelhock's Porsche pulled straight instead of turning while coming into Turn 2 at the Mosport 1000 km in 1985.
The causes of Gartner's terrible accident at Le Mans in 1986, a blast wich occured at 3 A.M. at Mulsanne, are also unknown. Maybe a geabox fork broke on his car, making two gears engaged in the same time, locking the differential and then forcing the car to spin. A sad end for a very talented driver (4th at 1985 Le Mans, Winner of the 1986, 12 hours of Sebring, approached about racing for the official Porsche team in 1987).

Behra's death on the AVUS may also have been caused by a driver error.

#29 Slyder

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 02:03

ANy more detail on what happened on these two accidents Winkelhock, and Gardner?

#30 CÚtÚrouge

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 02:16

Following 8W, Winkelhock crash may have been caused by a driver black-out or a blown tyre...

#31 Vitesse2

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 02:18

Originally posted by C├ęt├ęrouge
Sorry for the errors about Schlesser's story.


Hey - no problem! But we do try to be a journal of record here! And we all make mistakes from time to time - the trick is to edit the post before someone notices!! :D :blush:

#32 CÚtÚrouge

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 02:39

Originally posted by Vitesse2


Hey - no problem! But we do try to be a journal of record here! And we all make mistakes from time to time - the trick is to edit the post before someone notices!! :D :blush:


Thanks for you kind reception, that makes pleasure from a forum which is renowned even on French language F1 websites...

#33 marhal

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 05:57

hello..........


Nobody wrote about the first death in F-1: Onofre Marim├│n at Nurburgring, 1954. The most accepted theory says that Marim├│n missed a gear change when approached a dangerous corner, but I think that┬┤s impossible to be 100% accurate.

#34 Henri Greuter

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 08:38

Another famous fatal (for Indy fans that is)

Ralph Hepburn's fatal accident in 1948

He entered turn three too fast, the car then started to spun and "Hep" floored it to pull the front end out of the spin. Unfortunately, when his car (a front drive Novi) finally had traction again it was directed straight to the wall and accelerated into the wall.

Chet Miller's fatal accident in the very same car in 1953 but then in turn 1 is believed to have been the same but there are some doubts about why Miller entered the turn too fast.

Another one that could be told to be driver error might be Bob Cortner at Indy in 1959: A young rookie not taking it easy on his first laps, overestimated himself and that was it.

How about Jimmy Bryan at Langhorne? A track he hated and had not driven for a while anymore but for syme mysterious reason driving there again in 1960, `forgetting`the danger of the spot called "Puke Hollow" thus not driving carefully enough and being launched to his death.



Henri Greuter

#35 ghinzani

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 08:54

Originally posted by Doug Nye


I had the misfortune of witnessing the start of that incident - the good fortune not to witness at close quarters the result, as the poor young man was decapitated. It was not a driver error that sent him off...

It was not a technical failure on behalf of anybody in any way connected with the car, its wheels or tyres which converted the incident into an immediate fatality...

DCN


Sorry to ask but if it wasnt the car, driver, tyres or wheels what was it? engine seized? track too bumpy? bird/rabbit/some other animal? I've always felt this was a forgotten death in F1 terms, maybe because it was end of season?

#36 Pyry L

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 09:04

Originally posted by Doug Nye


I had the misfortune of witnessing the start of that incident - the good fortune not to witness at close quarters the result, as the poor young man was decapitated. It was not a driver error that sent him off...

It was not a technical failure on behalf of anybody in any way connected with the car, its wheels or tyres which converted the incident into an immediate fatality...

DCN


Thank you for the answer, I knew the qruesome end result via a person who had witnessed it at close quarters but not what caused the incident to start in the first place. This still leaves us with poor John Woolfe from my previous post. Also one that hadn┬┤t occurred to me before was the inferno that claimed the lives of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto at Corsica in ┬┤86. In short, for some reason the Lancia Delta S4 went off the road in a very difficult corner (according to Michele Mouton, she marked it with a double exclamation mark in her pace notes, entry 120kph exit 70 kph), down a ravine before crashing into trees which presumably caused the car to catch fire and burn to a cinder with it┬┤s occupants still inside. Again the accident could have been brought on by a combination of several factors: driver fatigue because IIRC Toivonen was fighting a cold at the time and was having to push at the limit to stay infront of and keep up with Saby. It could have been what caused him to make a mistake, however it may have been mechanical error or an unknown factor. Aside from braking marks which suggested that Toivonen had attempted to put the car into a spin at the last moment to avoid an accident, there was precious little left of the car to determine another cause other than what part hit the trees first. But what turned the serious accident into a fatal one in my opinion can be put down to the way the car had been built, magnesium, plastic and fiberglass with relatively little regard to safety, in comparison with the awesome performance of the car and the environment it was to be driven in.

#37 Ray Bell

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 09:12

Doug didn't say the driver was out of the equation, Pyry L...

In fact, that's the one component not mentioned as being innocent.

#38 Pyry L

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 09:13

I suppose I need to learn how to read then :blush:

#39 Mark Beckman

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 09:32

Originally posted by Pyry L


Also one that hadn┬┤t occurred to me before was the inferno that claimed the lives of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto at Corsica in ┬┤86. In short, for some reason the Lancia Delta S4 went off the road in a very difficult corner (according to Michele Mouton, she marked it with a double exclamation mark in her pace notes, entry 120kph exit 70 kph), down a ravine before crashing into trees which presumably caused the car to catch fire and burn to a cinder with it┬┤s occupants still inside. Again the accident could have been brought on by a combination of several factors: driver fatigue because IIRC Toivonen was fighting a cold at the time and was having to push at the limit to stay infront of and keep up with Saby. It could have been what caused him to make a mistake, however it may have been mechanical error or an unknown factor. Aside from braking marks which suggested that Toivonen had attempted to put the car into a spin at the last moment to avoid an accident, there was precious little left of the car to determine another cause other than what part hit the trees first. But what turned the serious accident into a fatal one in my opinion can be put down to the way the car had been built, magnesium, plastic and fiberglass with relatively little regard to safety, in comparison with the awesome performance of the car and the environment it was to be driven in.


Hi Pyry !

If its any consolation its considered that the actual impact into the trees was great enough to have caused the death of Henri and Sergio and doubtful they went thru the horror of the inferno that followed.

This crash was partly the reasoning of Group 'B's banning but in actual fact that section of road was downhill high-medium speed sweepers which the Group 'A' cars were travelling just as fast through (approx 140 kph, varying of course).

Toivenens brake marks clearly indicated he braked too late as you suggest probably trying to make up time on Saby.

Rally cars obviously have to endure very rough surfaces and hence are actually very well made in terms of strength in their cages and have to have safety fuel cells of FIA standard etc, but when a vehicle has an impact so severe then the fault cannot be put on the Manafacturer

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#40 Mark Beckman

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 09:49

Marc Surer had the misfortune of a Driver mistake competing in a Group 'B' Ford RS200 which took the life of his Co-Driver in the German "Hessen" Rally in 1986.

I have searched the Internet for the name of his Co-Driver who died but unfortunatly cant locate it, no disrespect meant. :(

This accident severely damaged Marc Surers legs and he did not compete F1 again.

#41 LittleChris

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 10:03

Originally posted by Mark Beckman
I have searched the Internet for the name of his Co-Driver who died but unfortunatly cant locate it, no disrespect meant. :(


It was something like Michael Wyner/ Wyder IIRC

#42 Mark Beckman

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 10:05

Thank you Little Chris.

#43 Pyry L

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 10:22

Originally posted by Mark Beckman


Hi Pyry !

If its any consolation its considered that the actual impact into the trees was great enough to have caused the death of Henri and Sergio and doubtful they went thru the horror of the inferno that followed.

This crash was partly the reasoning of Group 'B's banning but in actual fact that section of road was downhill high-medium speed sweepers which the Group 'A' cars were travelling just as fast through (approx 140 kph, varying of course).

Toivenens brake marks clearly indicated he braked too late as you suggest probably trying to make up time on Saby.

Rally cars obviously have to endure very rough surfaces and hence are actually very well made in terms of strength in their cages and have to have safety fuel cells of FIA standard etc, but when a vehicle has an impact so severe then the fault cannot be put on the Manafacturer


Ah hello Mark, wasn┬┤t aware you frequent this board as well. I┬┤ve also read that the force of the impact was enough to render Henri and Sergio unconcious if not dead. Incidentally the crash where Colin Mcrae became trapped in his Focus happened not far from the site of Henri┬┤s and Sergio┬┤s accident. I don┬┤t mean to put any blame on the manufacturer, that was just the way the cars were built back then according to the rules and that was that. Compare any gp. B car to a modern WRC which has quite impressive safety features developed as a result of the accidents we are discussing. Unless I┬┤m very much mistaken, the fuel cells in the gp.B cars were very similar if not the same as in the road going versions, according to an unnamed Audi driver "200 litres in a container made of chicken wire, if you crashed into something that was the end of it". Although we have to remember that there was fuel spillage in Colin┬┤s accident too.
I remember Marc Surer┬┤s crash, he was injured quite badly himself too, wasn┬┤t he? Then there was Attilio Bettega in 1985, though I don┬┤t remember if it was caused by driver error and the tragic events that unfolded on the rally of Portugal in 1986 when a local driver named Joaquin Santos (sp?) lost control of his RS200 and crashed into the crowd with disastrous results...whether the reckless spectators were to blame for his losing control of the car is another matter. It probably could have happened to almost anyone in those conditions as Timo Salonen had run over a Sky Channel cameraman (who survived?) on the previous stage (?).

#44 Doug Nye

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 11:37

Re Koinigg's crash at Watkins Glen, I should have made my point clearer - while it was, I believe, a technical failure which triggered the incident, what converted it into an instant and pretty disgusting fatality was what he hit, and how it behaved under impact. Perhaps Mike Argetsinger should, or would, comment further because I'm sure he knows more about what happened than I do...until now I rather made a point of not thinking about it...

DCN

#45 Vitesse2

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 11:45

http://www.atlasf1.c...ghlight=Koinigg

Further comment is unnecessary .... :(

#46 Henri Greuter

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 13:25

About the fatality of Cresto and Toivonen,

The Delta S4 had its fuel cell between the drivers and engine but extending under the chairs. So if the car flew into a tree, I wonder what kind of protection the fule cells had on the underside of the car. Remember, the Delta S4 was `only`a spaceframe.
From what I remember, Toivonen was way up in the lead already.


And those flyweight Lancia's have been decribed as:

"All additional safety the chassis offered at front was a layer of paint."

Still, can't help feeling that Stratos, 037 Rallye and DeltaS4 belong to my all time favorite rallycars. I know the Gp. B's were lethal but technically they were absolutely the most incredible rally cars ever built if not among the most incredible competition cars ever built. I still miss them.

Henri Greuter

#47 Mark Beckman

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 14:51

I have seen a picture of the burnt out DeltaS4 and the cage was rather intact.

The chicken wire comment doesnt hold up to reason because fragile strutures simply wont hold up under what Rallying has to offer say in Portugul or Greece for instance and particuarly in Finland (rally of the thousand humps) where the stresses on the chassis are extreme.

Toivenens and Surers crashes and similar fatalities are just a case of striking immovable objects at speeds that are beyond the scope of any safety equipment and this factor will never change and with the amount of miles and speed acheived in Rallying inches from trees and rather large objects, I'm amazed there isnt more fatal incidents.

The crash in Portugul I have on tape and it was a fast right over a crest followed immediately by a sharp left and he was simply going a bit quick as well as the car getting light and just went straight on into the 6 deep crowd unable to wash off speed for the lefthander.

#48 Henri Greuter

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 15:13

Mark,

I also saw pics of a fairly decent looking cage, but that was about all that was left of the car. A disadvantage of the spaceframe cage is that it is easier to get something sticking through `the bones`while if the car had been a monocoque structure like with the 037 Rallye, the fuel tank might have been better protected.
I don't know enough about the DeltaS4 to know how well the internal parts within the cage were protected by plates etcetera.

Other than that, I can't do anything else but agree with you. Those chassis themselves took unholy poundings while been driven at those tracks, crashworthyness however was another matter. But at those speeds......

Henri Greuter

#49 Pyry L

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 16:54

I have the picture of the S4 too, the space frame is intact apart from where it hit the trees but that is about all that was left. According to accounts the car burned for over half an hour with quite fierce intensity. I am aware that the chassis were designed absorb a huge amount of punishment (re:Acropolis, 1000 Lakes, Ivory Coast etc), but you have to remember that the rest of the car was made from the lightest materials available(crash protection wasn┬┤t a priority) that unfortunately weren┬┤t the most impact resistant or fire retardant, unlike today. All major group B contenders had space frames except the Audi Quattros which had a steel monocoque and kevlar/fiberglass bodywork. Unfortunately I haven┬┤t found the chickenwire quote in my books yet AFAIK the kind of safety cells found in F1 cars weren┬┤t required in rally cars and how I perceive the comment is that the fuel tank was perfectly suitable for rallying but definitely not ok for crashing (sorry if my english is a bit confusing there), like the magnesium frame Porsche 917K was perfect for racing at Le Mans though you would definitely not want have an accident in it. All you have to do is look at the rear end of an S4 to determine it┬┤s crashworthiness at the speeds they were going. Safe or not the group B cars were awesome machines that really belonged on a racetrack instead of a narrow road surrounded by trees. BTW before I forget it was Jean Ragnotti, not Bruno Saby, who said it appeared from the braking marks that Toivonen had attempted to put his car into a spin to avoid crashing. Michele Mouton described the spot as the most difficult on that particular stage, "I had denoted it with two exclamation marks in my pace notes. It was a tightening left hander that you arrive at about 120kph and leave at 70kph. If you don┬┤t come in at the exact driving line the car tends to oversteer". Also Toivonen was leading by 2 min and 45 sec over Saby after one and a half days of driving. When the competitors arrived at Corte the drivers were allowed a short break. In an interview with French TV Henri admitted that he was physically exhausted. He had suffered from a flu during practise but the time they arrived at Corte it was gone. You┬┤re right that the crash was one of those accidents that just happen every now and then with dire consequences. I┬┤ve also seen the video of the portugal crash...not a pleasant sight.

EDIT: Bugger, I should have said the first time around that the driver was describing the fuel tank as being "a container made of chickenwire".

#50 paulhooft

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 17:03

When at the Jim Clark memorial at Hockenheim,
I saw the Memorial for Brett Hawthorne next to Jim's cross,
I did not know him, and until today wondered who he was, and why it was there,
When did it happen, and what was to reason..
Paul