The Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track at Le Castellet has been appointed as the FIA Institute's first Centre for Motor Sport Excellence, and will be used to host safety seminars, train motorsport officials and test new safety features designed by the FIA Institute's working groups.

The circuit was selected because of its high safety standards and its continual developments in this field. It already boasts a number of unique safety features that are set to become commonplace at circuits around the word. These include 25 acres of run-off area, made from a special type of abrasive asphalt rather than the gravel beds used at other circuits, and a computerised marshalling system, which uses warning lights activated by transponders on the cars.

The circuit also houses a state of the art medical centre equipped with its own digital x-ray machine. The medical centre is the most advanced facility of its type for any circuit in the world. Other facilities include a medical helicopter landing pad, a fully equipped resuscitation ambulance, a two-bed observation ward with full medical equipment, full life-support facilities with two emergency sections, and a serious burns unit with appropriate bath.

It is managed by chief medical officer Jean Duby, FIA medical delegate for the World Rally Championship, and also employs a further eight permanent staff, including an anaesthetist nurse and a number of trained firemen.

"I am proud that Paul Ricard is to become the first Centre of Excellence for Motor Sport Safety," circuit president and CEO Philippe Gurdjian commented, "We look forward to working in partnership with the FIA Institute to assist them in improving safety in motorsports."

Paul Ricard is the first of a number of circuits that will become centres of excellence for safety. It is envisaged that a circuit will be selected on each continent to act as a hub for improving motorsport safety standards in that region.

"Paul Ricard has proved itself to be one of the safest tracks in the world, and its medical facilities are second to none," said FIA Institute president Sid Watkins, "I am delighted that the FIA Institute is officially recognising these high safety standards in appointing Paul Ricard as the first Centre of Excellence for Motor Sport Safety."

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