Stephen Errity, Le Mans correspondent
Huge accident ends #8 Toyota's race, but #7 takes lead
After several hours of controlled tension, drama has exploded at Le Mans as Anthony Davidson suffered a huge crash after coming together with a Ferrari 458 on the Mulsanne straight. The #8 Toyota clipped the front right of the #81 AF Corse GTE-Am car (driven by Piergiuseppe Perazzini) while passing it, sending Davidson spinning through the air and slamming into the barriers. The Ferrari hit the barriers hard, too, ending up on its roof. Both drivers initially got out of the car under the own steam, but the circuit medics were soon attending to Davidson at the side of the track and he has now been brought to the medical centre.
Meanwhile, the battle for the lead became a wheel-to-wheel fight just before the crash brought out the safety car, as Nicolas Lapierre in the #7 TS030 and Benoit Treluyer in the #1 R18 e-tron quattro trade places and drove down the straights side-by-side, before Lapierre was able to pull away definitively. As things stand behind the safety car, the #7 (now driven by Nakajima) leads from the #1, with the sister hybrid Audi in third. It's definitely a case of mixed emotions in the Toyota garage.
Elsewhere, another crack has appeared in the Audi challenge, as there was a less serious accident for Romain Dumas a while before the Toyota crash. Possibly spinning on fluid from a damaged GTE-Am Porsche, the #3 R18 TDI hit the barriers nose-first at the entry to the Porsche curves. The diminutive Frenchman immediately jumped out of the car and tore the broken bodywork away, before carefully bringing the car back to the pits with a loose front wheel. Rapid work from the Audi mechanics has got the car back into the race, and they have lost less time than they would have had there been no safety car for the Davidson crash.