THE father of a motorcyclist killed at Barbagallo Raceway in 2009 has called for an urgent safety overhaul of the Wanneroo circuit.
The issue of safety for motorcyclists at Barbagallo has again been put in the spotlight, following the death on Saturday of 28-year-old Daniel Chadbund, who was competing in the State Road Racing Championships.
Mr Chadbund is the fifth rider to die at the circuit in the past 20 years after hitting a barrier.
Scott Elliott was riding behind his son Cameron at the track six-and-a-half years ago when Cameron came off and hit a tyre wall at turn 6.
Mr Elliott said he knew from the moment of impact that his son was in serious trouble.
“His helmet looked like it had been hit with a sledgehammer,” Mr Elliott said.
Mr Elliott said the WA Sporting Car Club – who manage the raceway – need to adopt international motorcycling safety specifications at the circuit.
The FIM, the world’s controlling body for motorcycle racing, overhauled specifications for safety barriers following the 2002 death of Daijiro Kato in a MotoGP event at Suzuka.
Mr Elliott, who still races motorbikes himself, is keen to see the removal of certain tyre walls at Barbagallo.
“There are places where they are too close and there are places where they don’t need to be there,” Mr Elliott said.
“It’s a very simple problem to fix.
“The circuit management should adopt the appropriate FIM specifications.
“Each corner has to comply with that specification.
“That’ll mean moving some barriers here and there. It will mean replacing the sand run-off with what’s called a graded aggregate.”
The ‘graded aggregate’ is the same type of compound used in the truck arrester beds on Greenmount Hill.
Mr Elliott has started a petition to pressure the state government into upgrading the circuit.
He said there was a prevailing attitude among observers that motorcycle racing was ‘dangerous’ and that ‘these things happen’.
On the contrary, Mr Elliott said the sport was as safe as it’s ever been – but Barbagallo was lagging behind.
“The sport is pretty safe these days with the massive improvements in the protective equipment we wear and the bikes themselves – but you need a safe track to ride on,” he said.
“It’s just unacceptable – and such a simple problem to fix.
“The tyre walls up there are made from earth-moving tyres filled with sand for God’s sake. They’re like concrete.”
The WA Sporting Car Club refused to comment on Mr Chadbund’s death, although they did say that Motorcycle Australia licenses the track from them and had final say on the safety of the circuit.
Misty Walton, media and public relations manager for Motorcycle Australia, said her organisation uses the FIM regulations as “a guide”, and that they may “differ slightly” to the international body’s.
But Ms Walton said Motorcycle Australia used track inspectors to sign off on Barbagallo, and they would be returning to the circuit in June for the National Road Racing Championships.
“Barbagallo is licensed through us and it does absolutely meet all the safety requirements,” Ms Walton said.
“Safety is obviously the number one priority for us an organisation.”