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Old 21 Dec 2005, 08:34 (Ref:1487873)   #1
Nordic
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Mulsanne Straight

Just out of interest, with all the talk about track changes at Le mans and how it is being spoiled. Since the chicanes have been put onto the Mulsanne has there been a serious crash there that resulted in injury apart from the flying merc that thankfully did not?

Is it possible that it was right that they where inserted? when you take into account the number of drivers and others that where killed or injured in the years before. Was the staight a sacifrice worth making?
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 08:43 (Ref:1487877)   #2
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Well considering the speeds that were happening pre-chicane, you would hate to think the speeds the cars would acheive now.

You will find that it was not the Le Mans circuit itself that decided on the Chicanes, but FIA regulations. In the late 1980's (1986, 1987??) the FIA stipulated that no International Circuit is to have a straight longer then 1 Mile (1.6 Kilometres).

It is for this reason there are two chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight, and the Caltex Chase was added to Bathurst here in Australia.
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 08:52 (Ref:1487883)   #3
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There was a similar therad on this July. No idea how you insert a link so I've copied it!!!

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Originally Posted by Aysedasi
In my early visits to Le Mans there were massive accidents on the Mulsanne. Jo Gartner lost his life there in 86. It was the installation of triple layer armco that probably saved Win Percy's life when his Jaguar flew the following year. In 1990, Jonathan Palmer had a similar acvident in a Joest Porsche when something broke - which I think was probably an element in all three of these accidents (Gartner's being gearbox related and (I assume) Percy's relating to a tyre deflation). And yet I've heard much more from drivers about how they preferred the circuit before the advent of the chicanes (and indeed, additions like the Dunlop Chicane as well). There have always been drivers like Schlesser who professed to hate the place, but generally came back all the same. Personally, I remain to be convinced that the installation of the chicanes was safety motivated and that Badger is right. Balestre and Ecclestone were desperate at the time to force the ACO to toe the line and refusal to comply with FISA mandate would have meant the loss of the world championship round status for Le Mans. A shame the ACO couldn't have read in their crystal balls that Balestre and Ecclestone would shortly destroy that as well.....


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Palmer crashed between the chicanes in 90.

Gartner was accelerating just after the right kink after the conifers that leads on to Mulsanne proper.

On the Mulsanne proper Andruet had a big shunt in 85 in a WM as did Dudley Wood in the JFR 956, both nr the kink. Andruet unhurt, Wood broken leg

Sheldon and Olsen had "that" shunt in 84. Sheldon burnt, Olsen ok. (A marshall was killed by debris)

Plus the Nielsen flip and the other close ones, Percy 87, Schlesser 86, Niedwiedz 88. One of the Joest cars had a massive blow out too in 89.

So - deaths on Mulsanne "proper" in modern(ish) era = 0. Even Lafosse's death in 81 was at the start of the straight too.

BTW - this is not to make light of the Gartner / Lafosse / marsall death (Jacky Loiseau IIRC) but provides stats to back you up Ayse
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 09:17 (Ref:1487902)   #4
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I think also the attempts from some teams (WR?) to achieve more than 400 Kph forced the installations of chicanes. There was an invisible contest for maximum speed among some teams that were not aiming at overall victory, but wanted some publicity this way. I did never go to le mans before the chicanes, it must have been an spectacle but i love le mans right now as well. The first le mans layout was a triangle with three hairpins (magine the speeds right now!) , and I do not think no one misses that one...
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 09:26 (Ref:1487912)   #5
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I've only driven the track with the chicanes and it is still awesome, hitting 200mph+ before and after the first chicane. Before the chicanes the tyre loading must have been horrendous and that would be a concern for me. But, although I would have found it intimidating thats what motorsport is all about. Full respect for the srivers at LeMans pre-chicanes .
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 10:00 (Ref:1487942)   #6
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I am lucky enough to have been both before and after the changes. From my point of view they have not made a great differance apart from the changes in car design that required the cars to run ultra low downforce pre chicane. this point was demonstrated by the Brun team turning up with a short tail 962 and being faster than the long tail ones. (Imagine a long tail R8 or Zytek!)

This change may have also helped make the cars more drivable over the rest of the track and reduced the danger elsewhere.

I was not in favor at the time, but in hindsight it may have been right to do it.
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 19:40 (Ref:1488319)   #7
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I dunno if the chicanes really improved safety on the straight. Granted, the cars would most probably still reach 350+ on the Hunaudieres, but the question is if it is really safer to harshly brake from ~330 three times instead of one single time.

The improved safety at other parts of the track I could see due to a more drivable car.
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 20:20 (Ref:1488345)   #8
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My feeling is that it was a knee-jerk reaction (and part of the never-ending FIA/ACO war). Kempi has a point; is it safer to have three heavy braking areas rather than one long straight? Also, are cars not reaching 'terminal velocity' anyway on the three mini Mulsannes? So there is no reason to think they would go much faster on a single Mulsanne. Final point which Andy Wallace raised some while back; the old Mulsanne actually gave drivers a bit of a rest; they could rest their left feet and, passing slower cars aside, have a bit of a break from the hectic melee of the rest of the lap.
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 21:18 (Ref:1488385)   #9
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Well considering the speeds that were happening pre-chicane, you would hate to think the speeds the cars would acheive now.
Echoing what BSchneiderFan was saying - I don't think speeds would be any higher than we have seen in the past. They peaked before and dipped after rule changes and with the current power restrictions and style of the cars I don't think they would be too fast. Although perhaps I have a different view as to what is too fast!

Is it safer now? Yes, although there are some reasons why it was safer before, but overall it is safer now. However was it too unsafe before, would it be too unsafe if re-introduced? That is a different question.
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 19:49 (Ref:1488917)   #10
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Also, are cars not reaching 'terminal velocity' anyway on the three mini Mulsannes? So there is no reason to think they would go much faster on a single Mulsanne.
I disagree, most cars would go significantly faster if there no chicanes. The McLarens were topping out up to 310-320km/h in the late 90s, but they are capable of going easily to 340-350km/h if the wing angle was reduced, and chicanes were removed. One can only guess at the speed of the Bentley and Audi.

What would happen is that cars would be slower through the Porsche curves and other corners, and instead make the time on the Mulsanne.

At the moment cars are maximising time through the corners and minimizing braking distance rather than going for higher top speed. This is because of the chicanes being in place.
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 22:12 (Ref:1489006)   #11
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A McLaren was probably faster on the straight than an Audi. Speeds would return to what we had before on the Mulsanne if that I believe. They would make cars more slippery than now, but they'd still have significant wings. Some would hit 250, but that would be it.
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 23:58 (Ref:1489042)   #12
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No, the Audi's were faster in a straight line than the McLaren's. From the trap speed records from the Le Mans annuals from 1995 to 2005, the McLarens toped out around 195/200mph. The Audi's all 7 years they have been there (99'-05') have toped out around 195mph to 212mph. Though, 2005 was a slow top speed year for the Audi's due to the regs. I do think that the new LMP1/LMP2 regs for 2006 to whenever will allow the cars to gain more top end on the Mulsanne. For instance, at the unveiling of the Audi R10, there was a statement made by TK that the R10 has significantly more top speed than R8 did. So, if the R8's were running an average of 202mph top end, maybe we could see the R10's topping out at 210mph, or even higher. Any ones guess is as good as mine!
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Old 23 Dec 2005, 07:15 (Ref:1489121)   #13
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It's my understanding from talking to some of the drivers that the current fastest part of the circuit is the approach to Indianapolis droite (the right hand part). The ACO have announced they plan to slow this with yet another chicane.

I think the speed traps are set before the breaking zone for Dunlop, and before the breaking zone for play station and I cannot remember where the third one was. I have a document somewhere with all the speed trap speeds.

I hate the design of some chicanes they not only slow the cars they often destroy the flow and rhythm of a circuit, and with Le Mans they have succeeded! IMO, the point of racing is to go fast, and circuits should be safe, but to continually reshape a circuit especially a “road” course to slow cars, I don’t agree. I’m unsure what the answer is but I don’t thinks its “add a chicane on every straight” once the cars reach a certain speed.
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Old 23 Dec 2005, 14:10 (Ref:1489308)   #14
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The third speed trap, at least in recent years was at the approach to Indianapolis. The fastest cars reach +330 km/h there.

Any time frame on this chicane they want to add there, and is it official or just rumour?
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Old 23 Dec 2005, 15:33 (Ref:1489360)   #15
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I don't see the top speeds being higher with the new cars than with the Group C machines. With the more restricted areo rules, the newer cars i'm confident have more frontal area, and they have 100-150 less openly-advertised horsepower than the Group C cars (LMP900/1s quoted 600-650hp, Croup Cs quoted 700-800hp). Top-end speed is a function of power versus frontal area, so I think you can do the math. Also, a number of the Groups Cs were lighter than the LMP900/1s, so they could accelerate more quickly. Then there is the matter of gearing, which would have to change on the newer cars so that they wouldn't blow up, and the result would be less rapid acceleration. Finally, if you trim out the cars for low downforce/low drag, they will not corner as quickly, and hence will not reach that terminal velocity as quickly.

To be honest, after all the first laps I've seen at Portland and Monza, as well as the whole of the 2000 German GP, I'm not convinced that chicanes have real redeeming value. They destroy the flow of circuits, but the crashes alone are more than enough. It's also ironic that you guys have pointed out that those fatal and injury accidents, in most cases, happened WELL BEFORE the cars reach those really high speeds. And as one of you pointed out, is it really safer to have three massive braking zones rather than just one? Now thast I think of it, if the braking zones are shorter with the higher downforce, wouldn't you go off course at a higher rate of speed if you misjudged compared to if you had the lower downforce setup?
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