During a Audi phone conference today, Frenchman Alexandre Premat commented on his horrific crash during the penultimate round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the Adria circuit in northern Italy. On the start-finish straight his blue...
During a Audi phone conference today, Frenchman Alexandre Premat commented on his horrific crash during the penultimate round of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) at the Adria circuit in northern Italy. On the start-finish straight his blue Audi veered off the track after a collision with Mauro Engel and went sideways into the barrier, and rolled over a few times before what was then left of the Audi came to a halt. Premat was able to free himself from the wreckage and emerged unscathed within a few seconds. He was transported to a hospital in Adria, and a CT-scan confirmed that, apart from a small cut on his foot, he was completely unhurt.
At the moment Premat is in New York together with his family and friends for the famous New York marathon, in which he would have originally participated, but after his crash he was advised to watch the marathon instead of running the 42 kilometers. "I'm doing well, I have some pain in my neck and my bones feel sore, but other than that I'm fine," the undeterred Frenchman reported. On this past Monday, he did see the video footage of the crash and said, "It looked horrible, I'm happy that I'm unhurt, it must have been awful to watch for the spectators and my family."
Asked today about how the accident happened, Premat painted a clear picture: "I had a very good start, but on the last corner of the first lap I was on the outside. I tried to overtake Ralf Schumacher, but he pushed me onto the grass. I looked in my mirror before I pulled back onto the track, I didn't see anyone but I was hit in the back by Maro Engel. Because of the poor conditions and poor grip, I lost control and went in to the barrier."
Asked whether Engel was responsible for the accident, Premat replied, "No one was responsible for the crash, not me, not Engel, not anyone. I think it was only bad luck, the track was very slippery because of the wet conditions, and we were all very close together, no one was responsible."
What went through his mind while the car was rolling? "I watched how the car became smaller and smaller, as more and more pieces fell off the car. I was a bit scared, because it was a really long crash, when you are in such a crash, you only want the car to stop," he stated. "When I finally stopped, I checked my legs, my ankles, my arms, my shoulders and my neck to see if I could still move everything. And then I got out of the car as fast as possible. I got the cut on my foot when I crawled out of the car."
He was also glad the safety cell of his Audi had stayed intact after the impact, "That was a pretty heavy accident. I'm happy that Audi has invested so much in the safety of the DTM cars over the years." After the race, the head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich also praised the safety regulations: "Alexandre's accident was a huge shock for all of us. This horrible accident had no serious consequences thanks to the high safety standards of our cars. I'm very happy and optimistic that he'll be in the cockpit again at Shanghai."
Asked by Motorsport.com whether the construction of the safety barrier (which is V-shaped at that particular point of the track) contributed to the severity of the crash, and whether changes to the barrier could be improved for safety reasons, Premat said "Yes, we were lucky no marshals were injured, the barrier was maybe not good enough. But on a straight line you never think a crash like this can happen, but perhaps for next year they should improve it, because the accident would have been much worse if one of those marshals would have been injured."
Although Premat was visibly upset after the crash, he doesn't think it will influence his driving, he has analyzed the video footage. "The crash looks very different on TV than what I have experienced it in the car," he said, "The good thing is that I wasn't injured, I'm now concentrating on the next race, the crash doesn't change anything for me." And Premat concluded, "It was the worst accident I had in my career, during the crash I was just thinking: when will my car finally stop rolling? I just want to forget about this accident, I always look ahead and I'm already looking forward to the race in Shanghai."
Meanwhile, Audi have some work to do, Premat's car was damaged beyond repair and he needs a new car. Next week after the New York marathon he will travel to the Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, for a seat fitting. Premat will also check out his new car together with his engineer. Audi will also examine the crashed car and the data from the onboard computer to determine if there are any lessons to be learned, which in the end will of course contribute to even higher safety standards in the DTM series.