Misfortunes have characterised much of the week so far, with some significant accidents and legal wranglings marking Le Mans 2013 as one to remember for the wrong reasons for some of the assembled cast.
Lotus were in trouble on Tuesday, as police and legal staff were suddenly in attendance to their garage during an autograph session. An opaque dispute, which would be settled (for the time being, at least) in a local court on Wednesday, caused the team to suffer the ignominy of having parts seized for their new T128 LMP2 cars. The parts were returned and both cars would eventually complete laps and should take the start on Saturday. Both parties involved in the dispute have since released statements accusing the other of wrong doing, so this one could well run and run.
There were a number of heavy crashes over the course of practice and qualifying, meaning that only one of the first four sessions actually finished when it was supposed to; in no particular order…
Eric Lux put the Caterham sponsored Greaves Zytek in the wall at the second chicane in Wednesday’s practice, causing significant looking damage to the green car and a red flag. It would return for Thursday’s running.
JMW Motorsport, too, were dealing with accident damage, as Abdulaziz Alfaisal suffered a crash at the Ford Chicane in practice on Wednesday. His off put heavy damage on the rear of the car and the team were set against the clock to prepare the car from spare parts that barely arrived before Thursday’s running. It made it out for night qualifying on Thursday.
Tracy Krohn had a very, very scary crash in his 458 at the Dunlop Esses in Wednesday practice. Through the fast right, he was carrying a little too much speed and speared backward into the gravel. As the car bounced off the stones, it backed high into the air off the barrier and was left heavily damaged – the chassis would need to be replaced and a red flag was shown.
The No. 8 Toyota suffered a gearbox issue and stopped on circuit just after Arnage corner during night qualifying on Wednesday, further worry for the team, already struggling for pace against the all conquering Audis.
In the Wednesday night session, Pierre Thiriet caused significant damage both to the armco and his TDS by Thiriet Oreca-Nissan. The car would need a new tub and would not emerge on Thursday at all.
Thursday saw more crashes and another curtailed session – the final qualifying was actually extended for half an hour to compensate for all the stoppages.
Matt Downs had an off in the Boutsen Ginion Oreca, damaging the barriers at Indianapolis. Remarkably, his car took less time to repair than the barriers, which took a significant time to repair under another red flag.
The final red flag so far was for Christopher Bourret’s #76 IMSA Matmut Porsche. The car took a wheel off in an accident at the first chicane in final qualifying and the vast spread of debris meant that a red flag was inevitable. Thankfully, it was only short.
We can only hope there are less crashes during the race – because otherwise, there will be an awful lot of safety car periods…
Written by Jake Yorath
Photographs by Dailysportscar.com