Le Mans 2012: DeltaWing down
Toyota's not having the greatest race, either...
Well, it’s been a heck of a day. The major news is that the Nissan DeltaWing is out – punched off the circuit by the front-running #7 Toyota. Not only has this ruined Nissan’s party, the Toyota sustained so much damage it’s dropped right back from the leaders. Running in 46th position as I type this, it’s climbing back up the field steadily, but it’s fairly safe to say Audi’s got the 2012 Le Mans made.
Only real question now is whether the e-tron hybrids will go the distance (the #1 car remains in first, the #2 car is in second). If they don’t, one of the non-hybrid Audi R18 ultras will surely pick up the victory – but unless there’s a serious technical failure the race at this point seems pretty much set.
Audi isn’t about to let the first hybrid victory at Le Mans be upset by any of its own non-hybrid cars, after all. Unfortunately that means unless something does happen the race is going to get a bit boring. And with over 14 hours still to go we’re not even half the way in.
The DeltaWing’s demise – and driver Satoshi Motoyama tried for absolutely ages to get it going again – isn’t just a shame for Nissan but for the entire event. The public reaction to this car has been simply astounding, and the reaction to the accident equally emotional. Toyota have quickly been painted as the villains of this particular drama.
Just to prove that things can always get more unfortunate, the #7 Toyota knocked the DeltaWing off the circuit and itself apparently out of contention immediately after the end of a lengthy safety car period, caused by a massive accident involving the other Toyota.
The #8 car was overtaking a 458 Italia when the Ferrari turned right into it on the entry to the Mulsanne corner. This caused the Toyota to perform a full flip – something the current aerodynamic regulations are supposed to render impossible, not that they could predict this kind of impact – and smash into crash barriers. The Ferrari went in even harder, and ended up on its roof.
Brit Anthony Davidson was driving the Toyota at the time, and he’s been taken to hospital. Official word is it’s just shock and back pain – he climbed out of the car unaided – but he’s being kept in until Monday. The amateur competitor in the #81 Ferrari apparently emerged unscathed.
So that’s both Toyotas out of the running.
On the road with the landmark Lambos for special golden anniversary drive.
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