Allan McNish and J.J. Lehto sensationally spun off the circuit at the same time shortly before the end of the second hour of the 24 Heures du Mans. The Audi drivers, who were running in second and third places at the time, hit a patch of oil at...
Allan McNish and J.J. Lehto sensationally spun off the circuit at the same time shortly before the end of the second hour of the 24 Heures du Mans. The Audi drivers, who were running in second and third places at the time, hit a patch of oil at the Porsche Curves and spun.
McNish (Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx) went off the circuit into the tyres and Lehto (Champion Racing), who was just one second behind him, was caught out too and hit the tyres immediately behind. McNish, who was briefly knocked out, climbed out looking somewhat shocked and pointed towards the track while Lehto remained seated in his car as it was towed from the gravel trap.
Lehto tried desperately to restart the car and he eventually drove off with damage to the left front of the car and a loose left-front tyre. Lehto was able to get back to his garage reasonably quickly and the team set about repairing the damage.
McNish then climbed back into his car as it was pulled out of the gravel trap and he desperately tried to return to the pits - his car was heavily damaged with significant bodywork, left sidepod and front suspension damage and it skewed all over the circuit, but he eventually returned to his pit.
"It was like an ice rink," said a shocked Lehto. "We were the first ones to hit it. There was no grip at all. There was no chance - you just lost everything, it was full of oil."
Shortly before the Audi incident the #17 Pescarolo Sport Judd was forced into an extra pit stop. Sebastien Bourdais, who was running in fifth place, made his second stop for fuel but then pitted again a few minutes later and drove straight into the garage. The team worked on the car and fifteen minutes later Emmanuel Collard drove it back onto the circuit a long way down the field.
Jamie Davies toured around behind the Safety Car in the lead one lap ahead of the Audi Sport Japan Team Goh of Rinaldo Capello with Justin Wilson now running in third in the #16 Racing For Holland Dome Judd. The race restarted shortly after the start of the third hour.
Medical update: Allan collapsed in his garage shortly after climbing out of his car and was attended to by two Audi doctors who checked him over and decided he was okay. He was then taken to the circuit's Medical Centre and the doctors there will keep him under observation for up to four hours.