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SAFER barrier set for introduction at Le Mans

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The Circuit de la Sarthe is set for a safety upgrade ahead of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans after plans to install the SAFER barrier was officially announced on Thursday.

The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barrier has been used in American racing circles for many years, featuring on most NASCAR and IndyCar circuits after being developed in the early 2000s.

It was first implemented on a road course at Watkins Glen in 2010; it made its overall debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002, at that year’s Indianapolis 500.

SAFER barriers will now be installed at the Porsche Curves for Le Mans, offering drivers extra protection at one of the fastest sections of the circuit.

University of Alabama at Birmingham mechanical engineering professor Dean Sicking, who led a team of designers who developed the design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, formally announced the plans for Le Mans on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, Sicking noted at the announcement that this year’s race at Le Mans will be the first time that two competing safety barrier solutions have been used at the same time.

TecPro barriers are more widely used in Europe and Formula 1, and have been used at the Circuit de la Sarthe since 2014.

The plans were intimated to NBC Sports across the course of the FIA World Endurance Championship race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month, with sources saying that the installation of the SAFER barriers ensured that the layout of the famous Porsche Curves did not have to be revised.

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.