FIM Release Report Analyzing Luis Salom's Crash

The FIM have published a report into the crash in Barcelona, in which Moto2 rider Luis Salom lost his life. The report, which can downloaded from the website, was drawn up based on information from Technical Director Danny Aldridge and Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli, as well as analysis of the data by an independent telemetry expert, Lluis Lleonart Gomez, who was appointed by Luis Salom's family.

The report reaches a number of conclusions. The first is that there is no evidence of mechanical failure on the part of the bike. The right clipon, holding the throttle and brake assembly, was found to be loose when the bike was examined after the crash. However, this could be put down to crash damage, as clipons often come loose when the bike hits the ground. Salom's bike slid on its right side before impacting the wall, and this is the most likely cause of that damage.

The rear wheel was also damaged, but data from the (compulsory) pressure sensors showed that rear tire pressure was at the recommended pressure of 1.5 bar when the bike crashed. The most likely cause of the rear wheel damage was when the bike hit the wall, the air fence not being sufficient to absorb the impact of the bike. On the CCTV footage, it appeared that the rear wheel hit the wall first, catapulting the bike back onto the tarmac runoff and hitting Luis Salom in the chest.

The data from Luis Salom's Kalex was analyzed by an independent data engineer, Lluis Lleonart Gomez. Gomez was appointed by Salom's family, and is an experienced data engineer, currently working in the FIM CEV Moto2 championship with the MR Griful team for Ana Carrasco.

Gomez compared the data from the lap Salom crashed with his data from the fastest lap he had set so far. The comparison showed that on the lap he crashed, Salom appeared to back off the throttle in the space between Turn 11 and Turn 12, before reopening it to 100%, then backing it off to 45% for around 0.3 seconds, before then closing it completely. He then applied the brake later, harder and longer than on his fastest lap. That caused the suspension to move much more violently than normal, indicating the bike was not stable. Shortly after that, Salom crashed.

Gomez postulated that Luis Salom may have looked back in between Turns 11 and 12, found himself off line and closer to the corner, and then braked harder than usual. This would have caused him to lose the front wheel as the bike was still leaned over, resulting in a crash. According to Gomez, there was no evidence that bumps on the track had caused Salom to crash.

That Salom was off line when he crashed was confirmed both by a rider inspection of the track, and by Miguel Oliveira, who was behind Salom when it happened. It was an extremely unusual place for a rider to crash. The most likely cause of a rider crashing there is simple rider error, the kind of error that many riders make during practice throughout the weekend.

The report contains screen captures from the data used by Gomez to compare Luis Salom's crash lap with his fastest lap. The data has been published to allow others to verify the conclusion drawn by Gomez. You can download the FIM report from the website.

The report may explain Salom's crash, but it does not explain the cause of Salom's death. Salom was killed due to the force of the impact of his bike rebounding off the airfence and into his chest. The reason both Salom and his bike were on the same trajectory was because there was asphalt run off instead of gravel on the exit of Turn 12.

Gravel had not been thought to be needed in that corner, as nobody was expected to crash there. Salom's crash proved that estimation to be wrong, of course, with fatal consequences. At other corners and in other circuits, it is common for gravel to be laid over tarmac run off, to cope with the differing needs of motorcycle and car racing. Cars need asphalt to help them brake when they go off line, bikes need gravel to slow them down when they hit the deck. Finding an accommodation between the two is an ongoing process between the FIM and FIA, with the leading role being taken by FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini.

Whether Turn 12 returns in the form used in previous years is doubtful. The corner has been discussed several times since Salom's crash in the MotoGP Safety Commission, where riders meet with Dorna and the FIM to talk about safety concerns at each track. The current consensus is that MotoGP will continue to use something resembling Barcelona's F1 layout, which the Safety Commission decided to use for the rest of the weekend after Salom's death. That layout will be mildly altered to make it safer for bikes, putting more room between the tarmac and the inside wall, and altering the kerbs. 

One possible alternative would be for the Barcelona circuit to build a floating grandstand at Turn 12, much as the Assen TT Circuit did at the GT chicane. This would create more run off under the grandstand, while keeping the grandstand in place at a spectacular viewing point. That option, however, would be expensive, and the Montmelo circuit will not receive any subsidy from the Barcelona City Council for such upgrades. Barcelona's current mayor is not minded to subsidize a profit-making facility with public funds.

There is no doubt that Luis Salom's crash had a profound effect on MotoGP. His legacy looks set to be an even stronger focus on safety. The Safety Commission, and Dorna and the FIM's willingness to listen to the riders, has already helped make the sport much safer than it was in the past. But Salom's crash shows that this is an ongoing struggle, as the unexpected can create dangerous situations where none were expected. The riders, Dorna and the FIM cannot afford to let their guard slip.


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David, as you stated yourself, "he report may explain Salom's crash, but it does not explain the cause of Salom's death. Salom was killed due to the force of the impact of his bike rebounding off the airfence and into his chest.".

It's absurd that FIM spent all this time analyzing the cause of the CRASH instead of the cause of his death. He was killed due to his bike REBOUNDING OFF the airfence. This is key. WHY did his bike rebounded? Wasn't the airfence supposed to deflate after a large object (bike or rider) crashed into? In WSBK, surely that's the way their defense barrier works. I guess Airfence(R) is a more important supplier than Luis was a rider to the big hats involved. 

I was really hoping to read an assessment on the purpose and functionality of the air barrier in FIM analysis. Instead, they bring a telemetrist to find out why he crashed. The problem isn't with crashing. Dropping a motorbike can't be synonymous to death. No one cares if he crashed because of his errors or the tracks. We only care that he died, and the WHY is the most important, to prevent other tragedies.

David, I ask you to inquire this matter further if you have the chance. Thanks.

And how useless these questions: we know why they look into the cause of the crash and avoid like hell the reason of his death.
It's called to lawyer up. We can say with fair certainty that had the gravel.been there trajectories and the impact would have been different. The minute the organisers admit to that they open.up to a law suit. So it's much much easier to point all attention to why he crashed and divert the attention from a basic fact: had the gravel been there Salom might be alive. What's appalling is that for years all riders have stressed that tarmac should be replaced by gravel. And now we have to hear that because that's an unusual place to crash, nobody thought about it? If Salom family decided to sue they would have a big chance of winning. And they should to make an example. The gravel wasn't there because it would cost too much money to put it and then clean up for F1. This is a conduct dictated by profit not concern about safety. And what about next race? Stoner Rossi Lorenzo Redding all voiced some concern about safety.... but I bet that nothing will be done about it

It appears that even if the bike had stuck to the fence , the young man would have merely slid a few more feet before impacting the bike....unfortuantely the trajectory of his slide took him directly into the bike, which appears to be essentially at rest by the moment of impact with the rider....

it also gives us a look at real telemetry data in which there is a lot to study there.

those critical obviuosly forgot the title of the report which is analyzing the crash not the consequences.

what I did find intresting in the report was the remark about the clip on.

looking at the photo I do not like the way the twisting action of the clip on is secured.

the question not answered is what if the bar came loose before the crash rather than as a result of it.  Would the data have supported this.?

Thinking about the twisting action of the throttle return spring, if the bar was loose it could slip back to a part throttle postion even with the riders hand stayed in the same position

then when the rider goes to close the throttle his hand would go to the closed position and it would hit the thottle stop and the rotate the bar again

once realizing this and the disruption it would have caused it would be enough go off line

then when grabbing for the brake the lever, which may have roatated and be where expected, causing further delay in applying the brakes and doing so smoothly.

the result a more akward application of the brake later than normal and the bike getting upset, which is the finding of the investigation, and what we can see in the brake pressure signal and the correspinding front and rear suspension undulations

for me the learing is securment of controls are safety critical. I will be sure to check mine more often.  



...leads to an unremarked fact. He was applying braking right over the bumps. If you notice the two laps shown, his front and rear suspensions "wobble" in a similar way (three peaks) right after the throttle is closed - and the brake is released in the first lap. 

While braking over the bumps, he's increasing the force being transmitted to the fork, thus the increase in front suspension movement. So yes, in spite of the last paragraph of FIM infamous report, the bumps and the crash are related. If the asphalt was leveled, he shouldn't had crashed. As stated in the in the report, he was over 7 to 8 meters in his braking point. Conjugated to this report, they should had analyzed the surface of the turn right at that spot. 

When they changed the layout of the circuit, post Salom’s accident, they set themselves up to effectively say “any circuit with an airfence or tyre wall that has the potential to allow a rider to collide with their bike, is unsafe…..”.  Because that is effectively what they did by changing the track layout or being faced with having to cancel it. That would rule out a LOT of great circuits, Mugello immediately coming to mind (think Rossi and Bautista coming together a couple of years back).  Yes, gravel traps slow riders down and they also kick bikes up into the air, which has the potential to land on a rider.  This was a freak accident and knee jerk reactions help no one.

Racing will never be “safe” and whilst there are certainly things that can be done to improve it, you will never improve it 100% and there is always the risk of death or serious injury. 

With regards to the Red Bull Ring, they have an early opportunity to address some serious concerns and let's hope they do…… maybe squeeze some more left handers in because that circuit really does look boring (from a riders perspective… maybe it will make good races).