Barbagallo run offs too dangerous for bikes

A diagram from the safety report showing the motorcycle run-offs it says are required for Barbagallo Raceway.

BARBAGALLO Raceway has some non-compliant run offs, with high and extreme risk levels for motorcyclists, according to a report released publicly on Friday, December 9.

The report was commissioned by the Department of Sport and Recreation after the death of 28-year-old Daniel Chadbund during a motorcycle event at Barbagallo Raceway on Saturday, April 30.

The safety report authored by Chris Hall from Hall Technical concluded the raceway’s current layout and barrier design meant the circuit was associated with a significant number of critical risk items that rendered it unsafe for motorcycle racing but it also highlighted concerns about Turn 3 for car racing as well.

Hr Hall said the Barbagallo circuit was comparable with FIA (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) grade 3 level and Motorcycling Australia national level but the run offs at some turns did not meet requirements.

“A targeted risk assessment of the non-compliant items at the circuit has indicated high and extreme risk levels at various locations,’’ he said.

“Turn 3 is associated with a high level outcome for cars and an extreme level outcome for motorcycles.

“Run-off deficiencies for cars at Turn 1 (exit), Turn 5 and Turn 7 (exit) are associated with low level outcome risk.

“Run-off deficiencies for motorcycles at Turn 1 and Turn 5 are associated with high level outcome risk while deficiencies at Turn 6 and Turn 7 are associated with extreme level outcome risk.’’

He said there were other non-compliant items at the circuit, such as the type of kerbs installed and the track width, which were considered non-critical but should be upgraded.

“(But) non-compliant sections of poor transition from the track surface into the run-off areas should be immediately addressed through a more rigorous maintenance program.

“The planned barrier installation between the run-off zone for Turn 4 and the back straight (Turn 6 to Turn 7) should be given high priority.’’

Mr Hall said many of the safety issues associated with the insufficient run-offs could be overcome for the short to medium term, without altering barrier alignments, through designed placement, alignment and construction of appropriate energy absorbing devices.

“However, Turn 3 requires re-alignment of the barrier or of the circuit to reduce the risk of rider injury to an acceptable level.

“The simplest and most cost effective long-term solution to the problems at Turn 3, Turn 5 and Turn 6 would be re-alignment of sections of the track at a cost of about $350,000, but that would involve reducing the length of an already short circuit and would remove the more interesting driving and riding elements.

“Upgrading of and slightly lengthening the circuit to conform to FIA/CAMS and MA requirements is likely to cost in the order of $1.7 million to $2.5m for a 2.5km to 3km circuit.

“Establishment of a basic level new circuit elsewhere, exclusive of land value, is likely to cost in the order of $5.5m to $6.5m for a 2-3km track length.”

A Department of Sport and Recreation spokeswoman said the findings of the report were intended to help the organisations responsible for track licencing, regulation and operations at Barbagallo Raceway to determine if they needed to take any action regarding the safety of the track.

The spokeswoman said the report had been presented to the motor sport bodies responsible for licencing of the Barbagallo Raceway track and its operations, namely the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, Motor Cycling Australia and the WA Sports Car Club.

“The three sports bodies are now working in conjunction with Motorcycling Western Australia to respond to the report and address any issues raised in the report,’’ she said.

After Mr Chadbund’s death, which is being investigated by WA Police who will report to the Coroner, there were media reports questioning the safety of the raceway for motorcyclists.

Scott Elliott told the Western Independent his 24-year-old son Cameron died in 2009 when his motorcycle slammed into a solid tyre barrier at Barbagallo.

The newspaper also quoted Ducati Owners Club WA president Peter Newbey as saying upgrades should be made to the whole track.

“The safety barriers and systems are old fashioned and out-of-date,” he said.

“These track users can be doing anywhere between 120 and 180km/h.

“When someone falls off a bike they don’t stop, they slide with momentum.

“If the barrier was something cushiony or inflatable they may walk away with a broken arm or leg, but they’d get to walk away.”

In an ABC report racing identity Wayne Gardner also said the raceway was unsafe and he had never really ridden anywhere else in the world that had tractor tyres as a barrier around a racetrack.

The report is available at