Flying carbon everywhere, as Mike Rockenfeller's Audi R18 hits the armco on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans shortly after 22:30 CEST / 21:30 BST / 20:30 UTC.

Rockenfeller (Rocky)  had just overtaken the #7 Peugeot (Gene) a few laps before, and was charging, lapping continually in 3m28-3m30s range, with both remaining Audis taking advantage of the cooling temperatures.

However it was not to be a repeat of the victory he, and his team mate (Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard) celebrated last year.

Instead it was to end roughly 8 hours in, in a frightening fashion.

The circumstances which led to the impact were almost a repeat of those which Alan McNish encountered earlier on in the race




In both accidents, it was an Prototype (LMP1) Audi making progress, which got tangled up with a GTE Ferrari 458.

Where as McNish tagged a Ferrari approaching the Dunlop curve, Rocky was flying down the Mulsanne straight, when contact was made.





In this case a Ferrari 458 (#71 / Rob Kauffman ) drifted right onto the path of the over taking Audi, leaving Rocky no where to go.

You can clearly see the Ferrari drifting across the centre line as the Audi approaches in the freeze frames from the onboard video above and below.


Following contact, the Audi pirouetted across the track and straight into the armco.

I strongly believe, the close cabin's of this year's Audi R18 is providing a significant safety benefit compared to the open top cars raced before - and would not have liked to seen the same incident with one of the previous R15s.




It is a testament to the strength of the R18 that both Rocky and McNish were able to walk away from their massive accidents at the 24h du Mans today.


This leaves just one Audi out in front, taking the challenge to Peugeot.


Video:

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts:

* It's possible that, had McNish had the better visibility of the open cockpit prototype, he he may not have made that error.

* In Rockenfeller's case, the Ferrari was on the racing line, which is where they were told to be during the driver briefing. I wonder if, in the darkness, he didn't realize the apex was coming that quickly.

Andrew said...

That's true. I hadn't considered the visibility aspect in McNish's case.

I suspect in the Rockenfeller case, the Ferrari hadn't seen him. I'm not looking to apportion blame - as clearly the closing speeds are massive, and its incredibly tough out there, and difficult to judge speeds, and distances.

Thank goodness both were ok.

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