Nicolas Lapierre: "They were very slow and I tried to brake..."
TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima)
Alex lined up for the 82nd Le Mans 24 Hours from pole position and held the advantage. Consistently lapping faster than all other cars, the #7 was able to build a 30-second lead either side of a scheduled fuel stop. As Alex prepared to pit for a second time, around 90 minutes into the race, heavy rain soaked the track, prompting a switch to hybrid intermediate tyres. But the track was too wet for racing and the safety car came out for around 50 minutes. That green flag period lasted only around 15 minutes, with more rain prompting another safety car. The team chose to bring the #7 into the pits and switch to wet tyres, with Stéphane taking over.
Alex Wurz: “At the start everything was fine and under control; the car was running well. The balance was pretty good and I was able to pull away from the cars behind and extend our lead. Then it started raining and it was extremely difficult to survive out there. I had really a lot of aquaplaning on the straight. Thankfully the car stayed straight and I could stay on track. From the road safety training I do, I know that in these situations you have to drop the clutch in order stay straight and that’s what I did.”
TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre, Sébastien Buemi)
Nicolas held third at the start but soon overtook the #14 Porsche for second. That did not last though, as a minor trip through the gravel cost a position and prompted an exciting scrap with the #2 and #3 Audis. But the heavy rain had a drastic effect on the #8, which was involved in a multi-car accident in very poor visibility on an extremely slippery track. Nicolas brought the car back to the pits where team members immediately began to replace the front and rear bodywork as well as the suspension assembly at the front left corner. Efficient work from the team saw repairs completed within 50 minutes so Sébastien could return to the track, eight laps down.
Nicolas Lapierre: “I came on to the back straight before the Michelin chicane. There was very heavy rain and then I saw some cars very slow, none had a rain light on. They were very slow and I tried to brake. I’m not sure if the GT car hit me first or not. I don’t know really what happened. Then I went against the wall on the right side and a GT car took everyone out. That’s all I can remember from the crash. Honestly there was nothing I could see and nothing I could do.”