Mechanical failure likely cause of fatal race car crash

CRASH VICTIM: British racing driver Sean Edwards.
CRASH VICTIM: British racing driver Sean Edwards. Bildagentur Krling

A MECHANICAL failure was what likely caused the fiery crash at Willowbank raceway that killed professional race car driver Sean Edwards, an inquest has heard.

Mr Edwards was sitting in the passenger seat of a 2004 Porsche 996 GT3 cup car and instructing another driver in October 2013 when the car crashed head-on with a tyre barrier and concrete wall before bursting into flames.

Mr Edwards died and the driver received significant injuries and was taken to hospital.

An inquest into the tragedy was held in Brisbane this week and finished on Thursday.

Professional driver, driving instructor and mechanical engineer Karl Reindler gave evidence on the final day and said two things could have prevented the car from braking: a throttle obstruction or anti-lock braking system lock-out.

He said a loose bolt or screw could wedge itself into the car's throttle body and limit a car's braking capacity.

MORE: Race cars should only have one seat, inquest hears


The crash scene at Willowbank raceway.
The crash scene at Willowbank raceway. David Nielsen


But Mr Reindler said it was more likely the car's anti-lock braking system (ABS) failed.

He told the inquest the anti-lock braking system stopped wheels from locking.

But when the anti-lock system failed and "locks out" he said the brake's pedal became firm and restricted braking capacity.

He said data taken from the vehicle showed this was a possibility.

"It looks like he had some rear braking lock, something like that could be enough to trip the ABS," Mr Reindler said.

"And then from that point onwards… the car just doesn't decelerate. You still get some deceleration but it's not going to decelerate to the full capacity of the car's ability."

In closing the evidence, Deputy State Coroner John Lock said it appeared there had been a mechanical failure that led to the fiery crash.

He said he hoped his final decision, to be handed down at a later date, would provide the right recommendations to prevent a similar tragedy occurring again.

"There does seems to be, I think, general agreement from everyone at the bar table and witnesses that some form of regulation of these types of non-competitive activities is certainly appropriate," he said.


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