Patron Highcroft Racing's Scott Sharp walked away today from a horrific crash in his Acura ARX-02a early in the second practice session for the 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6. Fortunately for the team a replacement tub was in the air...
Patron Highcroft Racing's Scott Sharp walked away today from a horrific crash in his Acura ARX-02a early in the second practice session for the 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6. Fortunately for the team a replacement tub was in the air Thursday night, bound for Atlanta.
Sharp, currently the LMP1 championship co-leader with teammate David Brabham, went hard into the wall at Turn 3 after going airborne and sideways into the inside retaining fence. He made contact with Dirk Werner and the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which was leaving the pit lane.
The collision ripped away a massive amount of bodywork as well as other major components to the car. It appeared three of the wheels were torn off in the rollover as well as suspension pieces and parts of the drivetrain. Debris was strewn across the circuit, and the inside retaining fence suffered major damage.
Miraculously, Sharp immediately walked away from the remains of the Acura - a testament to the car's construction. He was taken to the track medical facility and released.
"I really don't know what happened," Sharp said. "I was heading up the hill in sixth gear and felt a hit in the right rear. The wheel arches are very high with the wide front tires on the Acura - I didn't see a thing - only felt the contact. I knew it was a big one and I am just really grateful to Acura and all the boys at Patron Highcroft Racing for building such a strong car. I'm shattered for Duncan, all the guys, Brabs and Dario (Franchitti). We went through this last year and I can't believe it's happened again. I was just thinking to myself how much I like this place when next thing I'm headed upside down with a mouth full of Georgia clay."
A replacement monocoque was on its way via air freight late Thursday from Santa Clarita, Calif., home base for Honda Performance Development. Acura officials expected it to arrive at Road Atlanta mid-morning Friday. The Patron Highcroft team was hard at work Thursday evening prepping bodywork, suspension, engine and gearbox - among other items - to install on the new tub.
"The most important thing is the fact that Scotty was able to walk away," team owner Duncan Dayton said. "Cars can be rebuilt, but looking at the amount of dirt covering the top of his helmet we are just grateful he is fine. The guys are getting stuck into the car now, and we will do whatever it takes to get the car back together. Unfortunately, we suffered a similar set-back last year but the guys are not getting down, they are ready to work through the night. Our thanks go to all the guys at Acura, HPD and Wirth Research - that crash looked like an airplane accident and it is a credit to the those guys that Scott was able to walk away after that."
Peugeot's Franck Montagny had set the fastest time of the session at 1:08.217 (134.043 mph).