A race start of mixed fortunes for the Toyota Hybrid Racing has brought the team the lead of the race and a lot of work in the garage. Having escaped promptly at the start of the race the #7 TS040 Hybrid with Alex Wurz on board built a lead of 30 seconds. A downpour which soaked the Mulsanne straight but the Austrian held it all together.
Nicolas Lapierre in the #8 car couldn’t keep it on the island however and was one of the major contributing factors to an extended safety car period. Lapierre aquaplaned, hit the wall and collected the #81 AF Corse Ferrari and #3 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. The Toyota returned to the pits and eventually rejoined. The Audi and the Ferrari didn’t.
“At the start everything was fine and under control; the car was running well” Alex Wurz explained. “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.”
Nicolas Lapierre explained the cause of his accident saying, “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.”
Stephane Sarrazin has taken over from Alex Wurz in the race leading #7 car while Sebastien Buemi is working his way back up the order after taking on Lapierre’s repaired #8.