The Story of Andy Wallace and the rib-breaking Toyota TS010by Dim Angelov, on
Throughout the years, automotive history has recorded many worthy achievements. Some of them praise the car, others praise the driver, and sometimes both. This was exactly the case with British racing driver Andy Wallace and the Toyota TS010, both of which literally share blood…or cracked bones. The most fanatic of car enthusiasts find some romantic aspect about a car that can hurt you, but was it really the car, the racetrack, or a combination of both that resulted in the incident?
The Toyota TS010
The Group C Le Mans racer was developed in order to comply with the new rules for the 1992 FIA World Sportscar Championship.
The car spawned in 1991 and introduced a new 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-10, code-named RV-10. The idea was to replace their previous Group C car, which had a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-8.
The new V-10 had five valves per cylinder and a 72-degree V-angle. The car itself served as a test bed for Toyota’s multi-valve technology. In max setting, the engine produced 700 horsepower. For racing at Le Mans, the engine needed to be de-tuned to 600 horsepower. The gearbox was a six-speed manual that sent power to the rear wheels. The Le Mans spec TS010 could achieve a top speed of 215 mph (346 km/h) and had a dry weight of 1,653.4 pounds (750 kg), thanks to a carbon-fiber monocoque.
|Engine||3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-10|
|De-tuned power||600 HP|
|Top Speed||215 mph (346 km/h)|
|Weight||1,653.4 pounds (750 kg)|
The story of Andy Wallace
Apparently, a car can break a man’s ribs without crashing, although some external factors still need to be in play. But don’t take my word for it. Andy Wallace – at the time test driver for Toyota – shared his story in an interview. It happened in February 1992 when a team of over 50 engineers and five test drivers camped at the Australian Eastern Creek race circuit for nine days of endurance and speed testing. “It was in February 1992 and Australia isn’t that far from Japan, so we camped out at Eastern Creek and did a nine-day consecutive test.”
To put things into context, the Eastern Creek circuit has a long straight, followed by a high-speed left-hand corner, which can be taken with 315 km/h (196 mph). The corner could be taken at full throttle, but there was a catch – a bump, which was right in the middle.
“It was the last day, and I went out in the morning. To set the scene the track has a long straight past the pits, into turn one which is a 310km/h left-hand corner, and right in the middle is a big bump. It is taken at absolutely wide-open throttle.” – Wallace explains.
“I went through the corner and just felt this massive crack, and two ribs were broken instantly from just driving the car”. Andy explained how the same exact thing happened with the next driver - Hitoshi Ogawa. Just like with Wallace, towards the end of the first hour, at the very same spot, exactly the same thing happened to Ogawa.
Why it happened
Although this is borderline speculation, there is some tangible as well as scientific data to support the following text. There are three reasons:
Just like a car’s chassis and mechanical components can experience metal fatigue, bones in the human body can experience bone fatigue. Of course, there is the fundamental difference that, unlike metal, bones can heal on their own and even become stronger, once fractured. This excludes major fractures, which almost always require surgical intervention.
Bone fatigue is caused by so called stress fractures. Among the main factors that may lead to that are intensive training – military conditioning, athletics, etc. and being exposed to extreme environments, like with Astronauts. Endurance racing can be viewed as one of the ultimate forms of competitive driving, as well as a form of extreme environment, so it is very possible for a bone fatigue to manifest in this scenario.
Toyota TS010’s sheer downforce
Eastern Creek’s Turn 1 can be taken flat out with over 190 mph (307 km/h).
At 180 mph (290 km/h) the TS010 produces 4,698 pounds (2,131 kg) of downforce, while at 200 mph (322 km/h) it produces 5,800 pounds (2,631 kg) of downforce.
By the way, that’s the low-downforce setting. In maximum “corner carver” mode, those numbers are 7,288 pounds (3,306 kg) and 8,998 pounds (4,881 kg) respectively.
This means that, at 190 mph (307 km/h), the TS010 body can generate from 5,249 pounds (2,381 kg) to 7,298 pounds (3,310 kg) of downforce, depending on the setting.
The way the G-forces shift
The absolute maximum G-force a human can experience is 9G and that’s only for a few seconds, due to the heart’s inability to pump the blood. While some suggest that the G-force, experienced by Wallace and Ogawa is in the neighborhood of 5G, it’s actually the rate at which G-forces shifted that has ultimately contributed to cracked ribs.
In Fighter Jets, pilots wear special G-suits, which prevents blood from pooling in their feet thus making it impossible to circle throughout the body. Although Formula One and Endurance pilots experience 5 to 6G in corners, on a regular basis, it is usually gradual. The bump at Turn 1 created a jolt, which translated into a rapid shift in G-forces. The resulting jolt, aided by potential bone fatigue and the sheer downforce of the TS010 ultimately caused the ribs of both drivers to crack.
How the TS010 went down in history
In the end, the Toyota TS010 was a capable machine, which had some racing success. Its redeeming quality was that even with an entirely new engine, it was reliable beyond both the engineers’ and the drivers’ expectations. After the nine days of testing (and breaking ribs), the Japanese engineers praised the car for being “stronger than the drivers”.
The Group C racer was eventually succeeded by the Toyota TS020 and, in turn, TS030. Andy Wallace himself said, “That Toyota, still to this day, is one of the best race cars I ever drove – it was amazing. It’s just unfortunate that Peugeot went and built one that was slightly better.”.