Treluyer survives massive Le Mans accidentl It's shortly after 4am when Pescarolo Sport's Peugeot 908 HDI FAP is the victim of a serious accident on the run down towards La Chapelle, just before the S-bends of Tertre Rouge. The extremely violent...
Treluyer survives massive Le Mans accidentl
It's shortly after 4am when Pescarolo Sport's Peugeot 908 HDI FAP is the victim of a serious accident on the run down towards La Chapelle, just before the S-bends of Tertre Rouge. The extremely violent impact leaves the car completely destroyed. Rescue teams are quickly on the scene and begin extracting Benoit from the cockpit, although the Frenchman has not lost consciousness. After being taken to the track's medical centre, he would be released two hours later miraculously unharmed, save for his bruised pride.
"Despite the contact with the #7 Peugeot in the pits at the beginning of the race, which cost us a lap and a half, a place on the podium was still a realistic opportunity," explains Benoit.
"We were in fourth after 13 hours of racing with my team mates Jean-Christophe Boullion and Simon Pagenaud and we could maintain a good, consistent pace between 3m29s and 3m33s, depending on the traffic. I feel very sorry for the team who may not be given the same opportunity again, for the mechanics who worked hard all year, for Peugeot who had believed in us and for the sponsors."
Benoit doesn't speak about his own immense disappointment. Instead, his eyes begin to well at the sight of an approaching Henri Pescarolo, his team boss, having been discharged from the medical centre. The four times 24 Hours winner, a legendary figure of Le Mans, does what he can to comfort his driver, albeit in vain.
"The team had called me back to the pits for a scheduled fuel stop. They also took the opportunity to clean out the side pods, as I was forced to put two wheels on the grass to avoid a GT2 Ferrari," Benoit goes on. "While doing this, the engineers noticed the front splitter was damaged and decided to change it. I knew that the car's behaviour would change because of this and as I returned to the track, I remained cautious. The car's balance was good with a little more oversteer than before, but not too much.
"Then I started to get back into a normal rhythm but as I approached the La Forêt curves the car suddenly went light and snapped sideways. I did not have the chance to be slowed down by the gravel trap as the car took off straight away."
Benoit was lucky, very lucky. During the crash, his car hit the barriers no less than three times before coming to a halt.
"I don't know what happened," he mumbles. "Maybe I should have been more cautious for another lap but the car's behaviour was fine."
After the impact, Benoit didn't panic. "It was best not to move. I let the rescue team do their job and they put me in an inflatable stretcher before being taken to the medical centre for further checks. I don't know if I hit the guard rail with the car's roof or undertray first. The aerials on the car are fine, but the windscreen is broken!"
A definite cause of the accident won't be known until a full analysis of the telemetry has been assessed.
"We were pacing ourselves nicely," repeats Benoit one last time, his eyes now watering. "Our pace wasn't as high as the official Peugeots. We were happy playing the waiting game..."
"Until 4:03am on Sunday morning," said Henri Pescarolo, "the team were following the progress of our cars with great enthusiasm. Our 908 HDI FAP was then in fourth place with the podium in sight. Jean-Christophe Boullion, who had started the race, Simon Pagenaud and Benoit Treluyer demonstrated themselves to be just as capable as that of the official team's drivers. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, Benoit suddenly left the track and violently hit the railings at Tertre Rouge, for reasons that are still unclear. The impact was very violent, but luckily Benoit came out unhurt. Benoit was fine, but the accident was a huge disappointment for the whole team..."
Treluyer will be back in action next Sunday, this time at Sepang in Malaysia for the third round of the Japanese Super GT Championship. It will be a chance to regain his morale and, perhaps, to heal a scarred soul.