Suspension failure ends Ascari quest for Le Mans success.
Le Mans, France-- 15th June 2002: The Judd-powered Ascari KZR1 of Team Ascari has officially been retired from the 24 Hours of Le Mans after the British car suffered left rear suspension failure on lap 17. With Silverstone-based South African, Werner Lupberger at the wheel, the car left the track as a result of the failure at the Indianapolis corner whilst running in a strong 15th position. Due to the damage suffered by the car Race Director Ian Dawson took the decision to retire the no. 21 car two hours into the race.
Ian Dawson, Race Director, Team Ascari:
"This is a bitter disappointment for all concerned; our company, sponsors and supporters. Watching on the monitor we were relieved that Werner was not hurt in this high speed impact. The Ascari KZR1 has performed superbly all weekend and there were no signs of any problems. We had worked out our race strategy and could manage 13 laps on the fuel load, which is two more than last year. We are also able to maximise our Dunlop tyre testing by running them for 3 stints, over the course of the race this would have enabled us to move up the field, we were already starting to pick up laps as expected after a planned early stop for fuel.
Unfortunately the car suffered a rear suspension failure on the approach to Indianapolis resulting in damage to the car which, had it been able to return to the pits could have been repaired but unfortunately with the tools the driver is allowed to carry Werner was unable to make any repairs to the Ascari.
I was encouraged with the speed and strategy produced this weekend alongside improvements which have been made to the car over the past few months. We had a good showing and were confident that all the revisions to the rear of the KZR1 would prove reliable over this demanding event.
We will now review the components in the time available after competing in the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours, all in 5 months. The races in September in Miami and Road Atlanta are next on the schedule."
Werner Lupberger, Driver, Team Ascari:
"I was just arriving into Indianapolis when the rear end just sat down. There was nothing I could do, even when I stood on the brakes. Luckily I missed the inside wall and aimed for the outside one, it was a fairly big impact. You are not allowed to pick up spares any more and I couldn't drive back to the pits as I would have damaged the gear box and transmission on the Tarmac."