By - Motorsport.com staff Laguna Seca Raceway (2000-09-08) - Players-Forsythe Racing driver Patrick Carpentier escaped uninjured from a bizarre crash at the end of the first qualifying session this afternoon. As he was passing Kenny Brack's...
By - Motorsport.com staff
Laguna Seca Raceway (2000-09-08) - Players-Forsythe Racing driver Patrick Carpentier escaped uninjured from a bizarre crash at the end of the first qualifying session this afternoon.
As he was passing Kenny Brack's car at the entrance to turn four, Carpentier got his left side tires into the sand. When he turned his Reynard back onto the track, he attempted to brake late for the corner, locking up his brakes. The combination of the sand on his tires and the offline section of the track, however, caused him to lose grip.
"I was coming down into corner four, looking for a good line, and I saw Kenny Brack on the inside." said Carpentier. "I went on the outside of the straight, but I guess I must have put two wheels off. Then the car went backwards."
As he slid backwards across the hard-packed sand portion of the trap, he hit the gravel portion, the six-inch lip causing the car to become airborne. It cleared the gravel trap and struck the the top of the tire barrier, causing his car to do a flip over the wall and retaining fence. The car finally came to rest upside down inside the fence.
"The first thing I remember is when [the car] landed," the Canadian recounted. "It was quite a shock, but at that point I didn't know I was over the fence. I managed to partially pull myself from underneath the car and the safety crew did the rest."
Carpentier, amazingly, emerged from the car under his own power. He was transported and examined at the CART medical center where he was pronounced fit and released to drive the rest of the weekend, as he never lost consciousness in the incident.
The second session of CART qualifying was delayed for over an hour as crews worked to clean up the track. At the same time, Mauricio Gugelmin, president of the Championship Driver's Association, gathered on pit road with the other drivers to hold an impromptu meeting about the Carpenter incident.
Today's crash reminded many observers of Gonzalo Rodequez's fatal crash last year. Although Carpentier gave credit to the sand trap saving him from a similar fate, it did appear that the sand was the key to getting his car turned backwards. What is less clear is the reason for the gravel section of the trap being elevated, however.
"I don't think this track is unsafe," Carpentier said. "All the safety requirements are met, but there is a problem with the gravel pits. They don't seem to be graded properly. Anyway, I'm pleased that the doctor told me I could drive tomorrow -- I'm ready for it."