24 Hours of Le Mans: 8 Hour Race Update
“Anthony Davidson was taken to the circuit medical centre following his accident during the Le Mans 24 Hours. Doctors at the circuit have confirmed that Anthony is suffering from shock and back pain, however there are no signs of any injuries and he is walking and talking with no problems. He will be taken to a local hospital for precautionary checks but the team is relieved and happy to hear he is okay. Further updates will follow in due course.”
Update: 00:30 CET: Anthony’s team mates Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi have visited him in a local hospital where he is undergoing precautionary checks. He will stay there until Monday.
We’re all very happy to hear that he is OK and we wish Anthony all the very best! Our report after 8 hours after the break.
At around 14:00 CET this afternoon, the pre-race pageantry kicked off with the cars being placed on the side of the pit straight with drivers and team mingling with dignitaries, media and guests. The excitement was very much tangible. It was a tremendous thrill to walk down the pit straight and get a proper look at all the cars all lined up raring to go.
Toyota Motor Corporation’s newly appointed Vice Chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, waved the French Tricolor flag to start the race at 15:00 CET. The organisers decided to afford the honour of starting to race to Uchiyamada-san who’s perhaps best known as the “Father of the Toyota Prius” to celebrate Toyota’s return to Le Mans after over a decade’s absence, bringing with it an innovative and ground-breaking hybrid technology.
For the first two hours, Toyota and Audi traded P3, P4 and P5 places as both teams entered and left the pits for fuel, tyres and driver changes. Toyota Racing turned the wick up one hour later putting in lap times in the 3:28 range. Both Toyota TS030 HYBRID cars continued to push lap times to low 3:27 to cut down the gap to the Audi’s to just a few seconds.
With four hours gone, Toyota Racing was in P2 and P3 and closing in on the P1 Audi. At around 19:30 CET, the #7 TS030 HYBRID was within 2.7 seconds to P1. Just before Anthony’s accident, Toyota TS030 HYBRID #7 with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel took first place after some really incredible driving. I was in the Toyota hospitality with my earphones on full playing Radio Le Mans, but the screams of joy was tremendous. My colleague who was in the Media Centre told me that all the journalists cheered as Toyota took the lead of the 80th Le Mans race.
Sadly, the happiness was quite short-lived. The next moment, Anthony Davidson’s #8 car was flipping through the air and hitting the barriers. From the track side TV coverage and commentary, Anthony overtook the Team AF Corse back marker Ferrari on the inside but the Ferrari driver turned in without seeing Anthony’s car ending both their races with both cars in the barriers. Both the Ferrari driver and Anthony got out of their cars on their own without assistance.
A lengthy safety car period ensued with track marshals doing their best to repair the damaged crash barriers. The order remained unchanged until the green flag was waved again to restart racing. Unfortunately, the field was backed up behind the safety car and when Kazuki Nakajima of the remaining #7 car tried to overtake the Nissan DeltaWing, the two cars touched with the DeltaWing hitting the wall. The car was able to drive back to the pits for repairs, nevertheless.
Not long after the incident, #7 had to come back to the pits for rear wing repairs. After a really quick repair job, the car went back out. Unfortunately, the damage appeared to be a bit worse than originally thought and had to come back for more repairs. The team changed the car’s alternator meaning it was stuck in the pits for about an hour and 30 or so laps down.
At the time of posting, the #7 Toyota TS030 HYBRID is back out and doing lap times of 3:33 and catching the pack up. We will be back a bit later for another race update. Don’t forget, we’re live through the night until the end of the race tomorrow at 15:00 CET. For a list of how to follow us, check here.