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Sunday, June 12, 2011

How did he walk away from that? Le Mans 24-hour racing driver survives horror crash


In the frame: McNish was not the only one to have a lucky escape... a photographer also got a little too close to the action

This is the terrifying moment that a racing driver's car flew through the air and smashed into a wall during the Le Mans 24 Hour race.

Incredibly the man behind the wheel of the Audi vehicle, Scotsman Allan McNish walked away from the carnage unharmed despite slamming into a wall of tyres at high speed.

His car clipped GTE Pro Ferrari Anthony Beltoise's car while trying to lap the back marker and slid across the gravel before being launched into the air and spinning around.

At one point it looks as though it is going to land on the marshall's side of the barriers, but incredibly it pirouettes back onto the track side.

Amazing escape: Safety crew help McNish out of his crumpled Audi

The car landed upside down and people from the trackside frantically pushed the car to tip it back the right way before the 41-year-old could be pulled free.

He appeared to be in pain, but was given the all clear after medical checks.

Photographers and stewards behind a tyre barrier dived to avoid being hit by the car, but thankfully the wall did its job.

They were, however, sprayed with debris and one photographer was almost taken out by one of the car's tyres as he ran away from the wreckage.

Concern: McNish doubles up in agony but he was later given the all-clear after medical checks

McNish had enjoyed a superb start from fifth on the grid to be running second shortly before the hour mark when the accident happened.

The safety car was called onto the track and left last year's winner, Timo Bernhard, up front in the lead Audi ahead of its remaining sister car and three Peugeots.

After clipping Anthony Beltoise's car, McNish goes hurtling across the gravel towards the wall

A spokesman for the team said of McNish: 'He's fine. He's more gutted about retiring from the race.'

When the crash happened team mates in the pits put their heads on their hands in disbelief, but then when they saw him being pulled from the wreckage they were clearly relieved.

McNish had been enjoying a stellar drive having overtaken the number nine Peugeot of Sebastien Bourdais early on before getting the better of Franck Montagny just after the 20-minute mark to establish an Audi one-two-three.

McNish had already overhauled team-mate Benoit Treluyer and had just taken Bernhard for the lead when the Scot became entangled with Beltoise.

Marshalls and phtotoraphers dive for cover as the car slams into the wall

The car looks as though it is going to flip and land on the steward side of the track, but thankfully it spun back onto the track

'I have absolutely no idea what happened,' said Beltoise. 'I was on my second lap after a pit stop. I didn't even see the Audi coming up behind me.

'The impact was very heavy. I'm disappointed for Audi, and I hope Allan is well. I'm doing fine, but I was just very surprised by the accident.'

Head of Audi Sport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich felt the blame, if any was to be apportioned, lay with the backmarker.

'The Ferrari closed the door, Allan had no chance whatsoever,' said Ullrich.

Three and easy: McNish and Tom Kristensen had made a promising start

'He went off very quickly, but luckily managed to get out of the car unharmed. To see that the cars are so strong is good, but that's not the way we like to demonstrate it.'

Such was the size of the crash just after the Dunlop Bridge, repair crews were still working on rebuilding the barrier an hour after the accident.

With two hours gone and the drivers still circling under the safety car, Bernhard led from the number two Audi of Treluyer, with the two Peugeots of Alex Wurz and Bourdais next up.

The number eight Peugeot was down the order after electing to stop for a driver change during the safety car period, with Stephane Sarrazin taking over from Montagny.

The safety car eventually pulled in at the end of the 24th lap.

In pieces: The wreckage of McNish's Audi No 3

source : dailymail


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