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Horror crash in Le Mans 2012: Discussions after Toyota took off

Horror-Crash in Le Mans 2012
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K The 80th edition of the traditional 24 Hours of Le Mans race was barely five hours old, so the fans caught their breath for the first time. On the approach to the Mulsanne curve, Anthony Davidson tried to pass a GT Ferrari with his Toyota Hybrid LMP1. But Pierguiseppe Perazzini closed the gap at the last second, triggering a horror crash.

Horror crash at more than 300 km /h

A short push to the rear was enough to get the To put Japanese prototypes in bank position at around 300 km /h and force them to take off. With no chance to react, Davidson was suddenly just a passenger. The Toyota overturned once in the air and crashed head-on into the four-ply stacks of tires that protected a roundabout on the public roads around Le Mans. The Ferrari also hit just a few meters away and remained lying on the roof.

The pictures of the spectacular accident went around the world. And as in the previous year, when Alan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller's Audis were completely destroyed after collisions with GT Ferraris, the organizers have to put up with questions: Is Le Mans too dangerous?

In the past Years had been done for the safety of the pilots. Run-off zones have been expanded. The top speeds of the bolides were artificially slowed down. Thanks to the reinforced crash cells in the prototypes, all accidents had a minor outcome. One problem does not seem to be under control: The racing cars of the LMP class take off far too easily.

No remedy for flying racing cars?

The problem is not new. In 1999 the flying Mercedes CLR prototypes went down in history. After Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck took off, the Silver Arrows had to be withdrawn from the race. With the vertical fins between the cockpit and the rear wing, the last attempt was made to secure the cars against flying hours to the side. However, the 'sails' introduced in 2010 do not seem to be a panacea, as the Davidson crash proves.

In 2012, the organizers came up with another precautionary measure. The prototype builders had to carve large holes in the top of the wheel arches so that the air couldn't collect in the fenders. However, the measure could not prevent the Toyota from taking off. Instead, the teams complained all weekend that the tires were falling out of the temperature window due to the additional ventilation from above.

In addition to theWith a tendency to take off, the differences in speed also repeatedly create tricky situations. At the scene of the accident, the LMP1 racers are in sixth gear at around 310 km /h. The differences to the GT classes are particularly great when braking. Sophisticated aerodynamics and extremely lightweight construction massively shorten the prototype braking distances compared to sports cars. In addition, there are the driving differences between professionals and amateur drivers.

Perazzini pretends to be innocent

According to his own information, Perazzini did not know what happened to him: 'I already have it in the rearview mirror but it is very difficult to estimate the distance, 'the Italian later explained. Despite clear video images, the Ferrari amateur did not want to take the blame so easily. 'He just drove me into the racing line and hit me on the side. It was so late in the braking zone before the corner that I couldn't react anymore.'

Anthony Davidson, the one with two broken vertebrae lying in the hospital, the whole situation looked a little different. 'I was practically over in the right-hand bend. At first I thought it was a professional car because I had just overtaken a Corvette and a Ferrari. I thought he was also part of the combat group. Only when I was right behind him I saw that he had the amateur sticker on the stern. '

Still, Davidson felt safe. 'I think it was a completely normal maneuver. I thought he would stay on the left. I braked at the apex of the corner and was almost through the corner when I felt a blow in the back left.'

Close your eyes to the gang

Then for Davidson it was all about damage control: 'I was like an airplane in the air and knew that the gangs are not far away. I felt the blow in the back when the car hit the ground again. With my eyes closed and arms drawn, I crashed into the barriers a second later. '

According to the doctors, the healing time for two broken vertebrae (T11 and T12) is around three months. 'But that only applies to normal people, not to professional athletes and athletes,' explains Davidson optimistically. The former Formula 1 driver hopes that the pain will subside in three weeks and that he will gradually be able to move fully again.


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