The SAG Team has issued the following statement after analysing data from Luis Salom's Kalex, following his tragic accident in Friday's Moto2 practice in Catalunya:
“On Friday June 3rd Luis Salom passed away during the Gran Premi of Catalunya FP2 session after an accident suffered at the turn 12 of the Catalunya circuit.
“After receiving the telemetry data yesterday Sunday June 5th by the organisation, the technical staff of the SAG Team held immediately a meeting to personally determinate the facts of the accident and to communicate afterwards with exactitude what happened in technical terms at the fatal turn 12 of the Circuit of Catalunya.
“In the comprehensive analysis done on the telemetry data assisted the owner of the team Edu Perales, the team manager Jordi Rubio, the chief mechanic of Luis Salom Bernat Bassa, the chief mechanic of Jesko Raffin Michael Ferger, the Moto2 rider Jesko Raffin and the manager of Luis Salom Marco Rodrigo.
“During the course of the FP2, Luis Salom faced his first laps and makes his best lap (1'48.608) before making his first pit stop to change the rear tyre of the bike. After that, Salom comes back on the track and during that same out of the pits lap he suffers the accident.
“In that lap, Luis arrived to the turn 12 braking reference point 6 km/h slower than his fastest lap, according to the telemetry that was because a lower acceleration at the exit of turn 11. Due to that reduced speed, Luis operated the brakes 9 meters later to maintain a proper corner speed [through] turn 12.
“At the entry of the corner there is an irregularity on the asphalt known by all the riders (bump). The delay of the braking instant made Luis maintain the brakes [while] running over that asphalt irregularity, as opposed to the previous laps where he already had released the brakes on that spot.
“All of that added to an even speed than his best lap of the FP2 produced a stress on the front tyre and a grip loss on the irregularity of the asphalt. That grip loss produced the crash with the tragic outcome that we all know.
“This telemetry data provided by the organisation is available to any qualified technician who desires to analyse it.”
So why did what appears to have been a normal riding incident, a front-end fall, turn fatal?
The run-off area on the outside of Turn 12 (Turn 13 on the F1 layout, under 'Europcar' logo on above map) is limited by a lack of space behind the trackside barrier. It also consists only of asphalt (no gravel) but, due to the limited run-off, an airfence was placed all around the outside of the corner.
"The riders were agreed. We say 'okay it is a good solution', because it is not possible to have more [run-off] space. We thought the airfence was enough," Marc Marquez said. "What we saw yesterday, nobody expected. This is so difficult to imagine, that it would happen like that with the bike in front [of the rider]."
After losing control, Salom's injuries appeared to have been caused by a heavy impact with his bike, after it slid directly in front of him into the airfence. Had Salom hit the airfence alone he may well have walked away. Likewise, if the run-off area had been much larger he may have missed his bike or at least hit it at a survivable speed. But it appears there is no room to build extra run-off.
Would gravel instead of asphalt have made a difference? It would certainly have helped slow Salom and his bike down before the airfence. But FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini pointed out that in a different situation, where a rider is still on the bike and trying to use the brakes, gravel run-off can be more dangerous.
With the cause of Salom's accident not immediately clear
and questions over the run-off area, MotoGP reverted to the slower F1 chicane for the remainder of the weekend. Turn 10, at the end of the back straight, was also altered as a precaution. A decision on which circuit layout to use in future is expected to be made at Assen.
While the option of the F1 chicane allowed this weekend's event to continue, with the blessing of Salom's family, it was not a perfect solution and further modifications will be needed if it is to become the permanent MotoGP layout.
“If we continue [in future years] with this layout there will be some more modifications," Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta confirmed. "When we have all the information about what happened and the data, we will decide in the Safety Commission whether to continue with the old or new layout.”
Given the difficulty in extending the Turn 12 run-off the only option, other than using the F1 chicane, would appear to be a major re-profiling of the MotoGP corner.
Luis Salom's family have announced that his funeral will be held on Wednesday