The V8 Supercar series will have improved side impact safety in 2010 as a result of measures born out of Todd Kelly's accident at Barbagallo Raceway last November.
Kelly Racing has worked side-by-side with officials and other teams in implementing new standards that will improve driver safety and 'beef up' the side intrusion protection on the V8 Supercar roll cage, after Kelly's #7 Jack Daniel's Racing Holden Commodore was hit in the passenger's side by Lee Holdsworth in the Sunday race in Perth last year.
The chassis, PE049, was close to being a write-off, forcing Kelly into the team's spare chassis for the final event of the season, but has been extensively rebuilt over the off-season and, now virtually brand new, will be Jason Bargwanna's #11 Rock Commodore in 2010.
V8 Supercars Australia has implemented a safety upgrade to the roll cage that involves a vertical stay to the centre of the driver's door cross with gusseting to the box section and to the door cross. There is also extra gusseting around the A and B pillar. The changes are highly recommended for the start of the 2010 season and will be mandatory by the L&H 500 at Phillip Island in September this year.
Kelly said that he was pleased that the upgrades had been implemented so quickly. While not compulsory until September, all four Kelly Racing Commodores have already been updated with the safety improvements.
“I'm extremely happy with what has happened since the crash,” Kelly admitted, “Everyone has been extremely proactive, both the teams and V8 Supercars Australia.
“We haven't had to find out the hard way that what is on the driver's side isn't adequate., but we've updated all of our cars right from the start of the season and it's good piece of mind to head into the series with that already done.
“It's good that everyone did get on this quite quickly because the last thing anyone wants, whether that's a team owner, a driver or a representative of V8 Supercars, is for somebody to get hurt, so we need to do everything we can to prevent that.”
Kelly said that drivers could now feel more comfortable about the side impact safety of a V8 Supercar.
“It's not until after the fact that you get out and look at the damage from a crash like in Perth and think 'wow, we were lucky there',” he noted, “You never actually think of all of those scenarios and what could potentially happen every time you get in the car. Everyone in the category, especially the drivers, will feel a lot more comfortable jumping in their cars now.”
David Swenson, head engineer at Kelly Racing, explains the process that led to the new standard being implemented.