From a French hospital bed Anthony Davidson has been describing the accident that put he and the #8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid out of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans after five hours of racing.
The Briton, who has been diagnosed with two fractured vertebrae as a result of the crash, describes the accident; : “I was almost completely past the car after the apex of the kink. I passed a Corvette and a Ferrari with the pro driver sticker on. They were fighting each other and I just assumed the Ferrari ahead was part of their group and therefore another pro. The car was all the way to the left as you would expect a pro driver to do. It was only when I got right up to the back that I realized it was one of the amateur-stickered cars. But I still wasn't alarmed, I still felt it was a completely legitimate move and thought he would stay to the left, which it looked like he was doing. I made the apex of the corner, started to brake and I was almost out of the corner when I felt contact on the left rear.”
“Instantly it spun the car, pivoted round to the left, then took off and turned upside down. At that point I felt I was in an aeroplane out of control. I knew how close the barriers were, and travelling at that speed I was going to be there in no time. That part of the crash was pretty petrifying. It crashed back down to the ground, I felt an almighty punch up my spine when the car hit back down on four wheels. I still had my eyes closed and my hands off the wheels, in the brace position. Half a second after that I had the forward impact into the barrier.”
Davidson had made contact with the AF Corse LMGTE Am Ferrari of Piergiuseppe Perazzini before Mulsanne Corner. Both cars hit a metal Armco protected by a small tyre wall, the impact of both cars bending the Armco, Perazzini's car flipping onto its roof as a result of the impact.
Davidson continues; “I reopened my eyes and realised I was still here, albeit in a bit of pain. I had feeling and could move my feet; everything was working. I know I should stay in the car, especially with back pain, but initially I felt full of panic and claustrophobia, I just had to get out of the car. It was really odd. I banged the door open and clambered out carefully because I knew I was in pain. I had to stretch out and the closest point was the side of the car, then the medics came over.”
Davidson was taken to the circuit medical centre and initially diagnosed with shock and back pain before being taken to hospital for what were described as precautionary tests. However, fractures of the T11 and T12 vertebrae were discovered.
“The doctors say the average recovery time is three months,” Davidson admits, “but that's an average person not a professional sportsman or athlete. That estimate is to get back to an absolutely healed bone; as strong as it was before. It's more like three weeks until the pain subsides and I get my mobility back fully.”
Davidson's accident came just as Nicolas Lapierre had taken the lead in the #7 Toyota. However, after the safety car period that followed Davidson's crash the #7 made contact with another car, starting off a chain reaction of technical problems with the car that ended in the car's retirement.
“When the team visited we all gave each other a pat on the back for our performance,” said Davidson assessing the competitive debut of the petrol-hybrid Toyota. “More than anything, we wanted to show the speed of the car. When we look back, even from my hospital bed, there were a lot of positives. We needed to tick many boxes this weekend and being fast was one of them. We had a great qualifying session, splitting the Audis, and showed great pace in the race to take the lead through Nico in the #7. I think that was really good for the fans.”