It’s been a year since Allan Simonsen’s fatal accident at Tertre Rouge and the ACO has clearly made steps forward in improving safety at Le Mans.
“We work on improving the safety every day. We have different people involved in that,” ACO Sporting Manager Vincent Beaumesnil told Sportscar365.
“We had some very precious help from Yannick Dalmas and Emanuele Pirro, who took the role of being the voice of the other drivers. This was very helpful.”
The last 12 months the ACO worked hard to make the necessary changes in order to increase safety.
“We have very close links with the FIA and French federation inspectors. Together we took the decisions on the works on the track,” Beaumesnil said.
“I also have to say it is always a big investment when you have such a big track. We have managed to achieve all the works that were required, so we are very happy.”
At Tertre Rouge the guardrail was moved a meter and a half away from the trees and a tire barrier was placed to increase safety. Improvements were also made at the Porsche Curves following accidents in recent years.
“In the first corner at the Porsche Curves we have increased safety a lot by adding a new barrier and we also have a new gravel bad at the exit of the last corner, Corvette Corner,” Beaumesnil said.
Rebellion Racing and 8Star Motorsports both had incidents, but the new barrier prevented injuries both times.
The corner remains a point of discussion, though, as Loic Duval, James Calado and Fernando Rees crashed heavily, resulting in the withdrawal of the No. 99 Aston Martin and replacement chassis for the No. 1 Audi and the No. 71 Ferrari.
At the official test day, a number of GTE cars were seen flying over the curbs at the Ford Curves, an area also changed since last year’s race. The ACO has since flattened that area to prevent cars from taking off again.
“It wasn’t the curb we altered at the Ford Chicane, but it was the chicane before,” Beaumesnil said. “We had an issue with the layout of the ground and the curb. We have made modifications, so now it’s flat and we have fixed the problem.”
The new “Slow Zone”procedure was also tested out for the first time in an official session yesterday, although a number of drivers was unhappy with it effectively ending the fight for pole position.