26 Jan 08
This weekend's Rallye Monte-Carlo is the first rally on which WRC teams have used a new side impact safety system developed by the FIA.
The Advanced Side Impact System, developed by the FIA Institute's Closed Car Research Group, is designed to help save rally drivers and co-drivers from serious injury in the event of a high speed side-on crash with a solid object.
The crucial components of the system include a 200mm space between the door and drivers' seats to help minimise the energy and forces on the body of the occupant in the event of a collision.
FIA Institute President Syd Watkins said: "After three years of research and testing I am delighted to see these important safety measures incorporated into the rally cars. The teams and drivers have been highly supportive throughout and I look forward to further collaborations as we continue to strive for ever higher levels of safety in our sport.
"The teams have been busy over the winter incorporating the crucial components of the system, which include more survival space and side impact energy absorbers. Further side impact measures, including a stronger supporting seat, stronger seat rails, safety nets and optimised belt anchorage positions will be phased in during the summer break. In 2009, it is planned to introduce a new load spreading door cage system."
The FIA Institute began work on the side impact project in March 2005, in partnership with the Subaru and Peugeot teams.
The first target was to minimise the energy forces on the occupants of the car during a collision. This is achieved through greater survival space as well as energy absorbing material and a load spreading door cage. The next priority was strengthening the driver's seat to improve head, shoulder and pelvic support. The seat is important because it is the main connection between the driver's body and the car. It also provides the last line of protection should an accident occur.