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.