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For Organisers and Interlagos

April 5, 2011

When Gustavo Sondermann crashed fatality at Interlagos on Sunday, it raised several questions about the level of safety at the circuit and the organisation of the event in question.

In extreme wet conditions, Sondermann crashed during the Copa Chevrolet Montana at the exit of Subida dos Boxes (turn 14), when his stock car barrelled into the outer retaining wall, before ricocheting back on track and into the line of traffic.
As the 29-year-old slid across the circuit, he received another three hits – this time side on from various competitors.
The Brazilian suffered from head injuries and also went into cardiac arrest on site. Initially Sondermann fell in to a coma, before passing away later that day.

Several issues have since been raised. Turn 14 is the same corner that saw Rafael Sperifico lose his life at the tail end of 2007 in a very similar accident, while competing in the same formula of racing.
The corner had a SAFER barrier installed late last year, so provisions for vehicle retention do exist at the corner; however the angle at which cars approach the may be a significant factor for rebounding machines.
Another factor is the construction of the cars themselves, especially with regards as to how well they withstand extreme forces in an accident.

Beyond the circuit and the cars, it must be asked why was the race even started when considering how wet the circuit was. Also when the crash did occur, why did it take so long to stop the race when the ambulances were out? Thereafter. why maintain the safety car when such a significant accident had taken place on track?
Over the next while, the circuit will take a fair amount of criticism, but the race organisers need to paid heed too.

Meanwhile, the racing world must lament and learn from yet another tragedy and while Gustavo Sondermann may not have been heavily on the radar here in Europe, he will still be missed.
Gustavo Sondermann (R.I.P., 1982-2011)

From → Various

2 Comments
  1. There has been a lot of criticism concerning the race organizers and CBA (the country’s motor race federation) over the past few years. Cars in Copa Montana and Stock Car are known to ocasionally drop some parts of carbon fibre over the tracks with no apparent reason. The Café is particularly dangerous for touring cars, as they tend to return to the track after reaching the safer barrier, but I personally think the cars structure played a major role in those fatalities of Sondermann and Sperafico.

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      I think you’re absolutely right with regards to the car structure playing a big part.

      Admittedly, it is slightly odd corner in that is uphill and gaining speed and also faces the wall at an odd angle prior to road turn-in.
      As with all accidents, this is a case of many elements making the final result and the CBA may need to seriously look at the car structures, but if the costs of changing the rules comes too high, will any changes be seen?

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