WEC - Toyota's Anthony Davidson Recovering From Le Mans Crash +VIDEO
Q+A WITH TOYOTA RACING DRIVER ANTHONY DAVIDSON
COLOGNE - June 17, 2012: During the Le Mans 24 Hours, TOYOTA Racing’s Anthony Davidson suffered a heavy accident at the wheel of the #8 TS030 HYBRID when he was hit by a lapped car.
He will remain in hospital until Wednesday to begin the recovery process after suffering two broken vertebrae in the impact.
The strength of the TS030 HYBRID chassis, designed and produced at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, protected Anthony from any more serious outcome. Initial examinations of the chassis suggest it is intact and can be used again.
Video of the crash
How do you feel?
Anthony Davidson (AD): I have felt better, that’s for sure. I am in a bit of pain, in my lumber area, the middle area of my back. That’s the only thing that hurts really so I’ve been lucky.
What’s the diagnosis and when will you be back?
AD: Basically I have two broken vertebrae; T11 and T12. The doctors say the average recovery time is three months, but that’s an average person not a professional sportsman or athlete. That estimate is to get back to an absolutely healed bone; as strong as it was before. It’s more like three weeks until the pain subsides and I get my mobility back fully.
Can you describe what happened to cause the accident?
AD: I was almost completely past the car after the apex of the kink. I passed a Corvette and a Ferrari with the pro driver sticker on. They were fighting each other and I just assumed the Ferrari ahead was part of their group and therefore another pro. The car was all the way to the left as you would expect a pro driver to do. It was only when I got right up to the back that I realized it was one of the amateur-stickered cars. But I still wasn’t alarmed, I still felt it was a completely legitimate move and thought he would stay to the left, which it looked like he was doing. I made the apex of the corner, started to brake and I was almost out of the corner when I felt contact on the left rear.
Can you describe what happened then?
AD: Instantly it spun the car, pivoted round to the left, then took off and turned upside down. At that point I felt I was in an aeroplane out of control. I knew how close the barriers were, and travelling at that speed I was going to be there in no time. That part of the crash was pretty petrifying. It crashed back down to the ground, I felt an almighty punch up my spine when the car hit back down on four wheels. I still had my eyes closed and my hands off the wheels, in the brace position. Half a second after that I had the forward impact into the barrier.
What happened when the car came to a stop?
AD: I reopened my eyes and realised I was still here, albeit in a bit of pain. I had feeling and could move my feet; everything was working. I know I should stay in the car, especially with back pain, but initially I felt full of panic and claustrophobia, I just had to get out of the car. It was really odd. I banged the door open and clambered out carefully because I knew I was in pain. I had to stretch out and the closest point was the side of the car, then the medics came over.
Has the team visited you already?
AD: All the drivers have been. Stéphane and Sébastien turned up last night, the #7 guys this morning and it was a nice touch that my team-mate last year Sébastien Bourdais came to the medical centre. It was nice to see a familiar, friendly face at that moment. All the team came over this morning to check how I was.
What is your feeling about the TS030 HYBRID’s race debut?
AD: When the team visited we all gave each other a pat on the back for our performance. More than anything, we wanted to show the speed of the car. When we look back, even from my hospital bed, there were a lot of positives. We needed to tick many boxes this weekend and being fast was one of them. We had a great qualifying session, splitting the Audis, and showed great pace in the race to take the lead through Nico in the #7. I think that was really good for the fans.
Bitter-Sweet Le Mans Debut For TOYOTA Racing
TOYOTA Racing experienced thrilling highs and extreme lows during an eventful Le Mans 24 Hours which ended in the 11th hour.
An impressive start to the team’s first race saw the TS030 HYBRIDs fighting at the front, reaching a pinnacle when Nicolas Lapierre, sharing the #7 with Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima, took the lead as the six-hour mark approached.
• SEE ALSO: Toyota Ready For LeMans
However, the team’s joy at seeing its super capacitor-based hybrid powertrain lead the field was ended only seconds later due to a heavy accident for Anthony Davidson in the #8 he drove alongside Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi.
He was hit by a lapped car and suffered heavy impact with the tyre barriers at Mulsanne Corner, which comes at the end of the Mulsanne Straight when cars reach a top speed of more than 330km/h.
After getting out of the car on his own, he was taken to the circuit medical centre suffering from shock and back pain. Despite no obvious injuries, he was taken to hospital for checks which revealed breaks to his T11 and T12 vertebrae.
Those injuries are expected to heal fully in approximately three months and he will remain in hospital until Monday.
A safety car period followed that incident and, when the green flags waved, Kazuki fought for the lead. However he was also unlucky with lapped traffic and made contact with another car, causing a puncture and rear bodywork damage.
That began a challenging period for the team, with several problems losing the #7 significant time in the pits as the crew worked hard to achieve the target of taking the chequered flag.
However, an engine failure after 10-and-a-half hours forced the difficult decision to retire the #7 and end TOYOTA Racing’s first race prematurely.
Having proven the performance of its TS030 HYBRID chassis and TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing in one of motorsport’s toughest races, the team will return to action with confidence at the WEC Six Hours of Silverstone on 26 August.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Right now our emotion is one of sadness. Our best wishes are with Anthony, who is a fantastic colleague and a positive force in our team. We strongly hope he recovers very soon and we’re sorry we could not provide a result to cheer him up from the #7 car, which suffered firstly an alternator problem and then an engine failure. After all the hard work to get to this point, it really hurts to see both cars retire early. But in the next days we will look back on the first six hours of the race and feel great pride that we could lead Le Mans in our very first race. That is a remarkable achievement with such pioneering technology and this motivates us to push harder than ever to bring home some trophies in the remainder of the season.”