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Old 08-16-2012, 05:21 PM   #33
Former Vendor
Member#: 305763
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Plano, TX

This one is now famous, so I have to include it. Here is a picture of the Evo going off near Boulder Park and the crash recovery on Monday.

Evo crash pictures (click to enlarge)

The cage rules, seat mounting and FIA date rules, and complete lack of window nets requirements put too many driver at risk. Sure, the more experienced folks had these items even though they weren't required to, but with the entire 12.4 miles of race course paved, it attracted a whole new crowd of teams and racers. Many of which came from Time Trial and Drift racing, groups that don't even have Rally cage requirements.

Pikes Peak Cage Rules Insufficient

Let's look at the post-crash cage structure from Foley's EVO. Nobody likes to do this, but it needs to happen so the PPIHC race organizers will improve the safety requirements before someone gets killed, or barring that, other racers will see this and take these matters into their own hands by building a rally-worthy cage for their own Pikes Peak entry. Jeremy and Yuri were both extremely lucky to not have suffered much worse injuries. The cage they had met the rules, and in fact exceeded them quite a bit, but that does not mean that the cage was sufficient for hill climb/rally use. It was not. Being lucky does not trump being properly prepared.

Cage pictures on Autoblog:

Click to enlarge

At left you can see the main hoop buckled and B-pillar crushed inboard. Right: The A-pillar bar failed completely

As you can see, there were substantial cage structure failures in several key places. Places that would otherwise be reinforced in an FIA style rally cage. First, look at where the A-pillar on the passenger side was crushed and deflected downwards over a foot. Second, the main hoop was not tied to the car's B-pillar and both deflected (in different directions) over a foot each. The roof had one diagonal (as it was made for one occupant) and left the passenger's helmet very unprotected in a rollover (and seeing the damage to Yuri's helmet, it is obvious why).

Seat pictures. Click to enlarge

Now let's look at the passenger seat, which was bolted to the sheet metal floor and not tied to the cage at all. This is done in road race cages (but probably isn't a great idea there). When the B-pillar deflected inboard a foot, it knocked the seat and ripped it from the sheet metal floor, allowing Yuri to flop around in there. There was no window net to keep his arms inside the cabin, and that allowed his arm and hand to come completely out of the cage structure during the 10+ roll overs. His head came out of the car as well - it's visible in some of the high resolution pictures.

Helmet pictures - click to enlarge

The cage in the Mitsubishi Evo above buckled in many places, which would have been avoided if it had the an FIA spec'd cage - which has extra bars missing from lighter road racing cages. Some experienced PPIHC competitors pointed out the under-built cages to many of the new teams, including the Evo above that pancaked the A and B pillar bars, before the event (see comments by "DaveK" (Dave Kern, who finished 2nd behind Millen at the 2012 event) in this thread). Yes, this car had a huge off and smashed down a mountain against a bunch of big boulders, which you can see in the video, but it could have been better protected.

The cage experts on other forums are already over-analyzing the various failures, which need to happen. Foley was lucky to not sustain any injuries after this horrible crash. His co-driver Yuri was not so lucky, sustaining a dislocated shoulder and head trauma when his helmet cracked along four axis. His injuries were compounded by the obvious cage buckling and seat mounting failure (it ripped off the sheet metal floor). They life flighted Yuri off the mountain because of the very visible helmet damage. Looking at the passenger seat and cage area, it's a miracle he is not dead. That was a horrendous crash and apparently not uncommon for Pikes Peak, from what I hear. What would have made this crash safer? An FIA rally spec'd cage. I hope the organizers see this wreckage and make some much needed rules changes for participants safety.

The problem is not with the cage builder, it is with the origination of the cars and the PPIHC cage rules. Cars entering the Time Attack class at the PPIHC come from four main race groups: converted Rally cars, converted Time Trial cars, converted Club Level Road Race W2W cars, and converted Drift cars. These four racing venues have very different safety requirements and substantially different cage requirements. Rally has the most over-built cages, Time Trial/Club Racing W2W cages are in the middle, and drift cars (that might hit a water barrier at 20 mph) have the least strong cage requirements. The problem is, Hill Climbs like Pikes Peak see crashes that are nearly identical to Rally, but PPIHC doesn't require Rally style cages (that include A-pillar "FIA" bars, double diagonals in the roof, B-pillar integration with the main hoop, and more).

Should the competitors rely on the minimum cage standards set by a racing organization? Obviously not. But did anyone have an "illegal" cage for this event? I really don't think so. It was unfortunate for EvoD that their car crashed, as now everyone can analyze the roll cage failures and point out improvements. Again, they built a good road race cage, none of the welds tore, but it was not a rally or hill climb cage. I sincerely hope they take this criticism well, learn from this, and if they come back to another hill climb they bring a car with a rally-worthy cage. I hope the race organizers learn from this and require FIA legal rally cages for all cars entered in their extremely dangerous hill climb event. Their driver's will be safer for it.

After seeing this crash, Brianne's crew chief JasonM isn't happy with the cage in Brianne's car - he wants to add the front FIA bars to the A-pillar and a second roof diagonal, plus seat mounting tied into the cage itself. I personally have changed my own minimum standards for cages after seeing this - I used to be all about "the bare minimum cage" for weight savings, but not anymore. So at least there is one good thing from this: people are going to improve their cars after seeing this.

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