Di Resta in 135mph Le Mans crash 17 | 06 | 2018

    BATHGATE’S PAUL DI RESTA miraculously walked away from an explosive 135mph crash into a concrete wall as Fernando Alonso steered Toyota to its first-ever win in the Le Mans 24-Hours. (Related: Di Resta to make Le Mans 24-Hours debut)

    Di Resta, making his debut in the world’s most famous endurance race on the 8.46-mile La Sarthe circuit, had impressed with his pace and had moved his United Autosports LMP2 car to within sight of a podium finish.

    But approaching at the start of the 20th hour of the race, the 32-year-old Scot had a major off when his Ligier JS P217 went straight-on at the iconic Porsche Curves, missed the tyre wall and speared head-on into an unprotected concrete wall. (Related: Di Resta bags first DTM win of 2018)

    The impact severely damaged the front-left of the car, and caused massive secondary damage down the left-hand side and rear of the car as it pivoted back into the wall after the initial contact.


    The car then slewed across the tracks coming to a halt on the grass. After making radio contact with his United Autosports crew, Di Resta then emerged from the car unaided. The Scot was was taken to the medical centre as a precaution, but released after being given the all-clear.

    Di Resta and his two team-mates — England’s Phil Hanson and Portuguese driver Felipe Albuquerque — had been forced to push hard throughout the race after they lost two laps in the first hour when the car was forced to pit to have its missing GPS sensor fitted.


    Understandably it was a sore and apologetic Di Resta who spoke after returning the the team’s garage.

    “First, I’ve got take a massive apology to the team,” the ex-F1 racer said. “They busted their asses right through the night to try and make up the time we dropped at the beginning of the race.

    “But we were fighting back, and a podium looked a distinct possibility. To do that though we were on the edge all the way, but I've got to apologise for making a costly error that's ended our chances.”


    Di Resta’s crash came at the fastest section off the iconic series of fast-flowing Porsche Curves where the LMP2 cars, incredibly loaded aerodynamically and susceptible to the small bump in the track on entry, are travelling in excess of 135mph.

    “I’m really disappointed,” continued Di Resta, who admitted he was going to be sore and bruised for a few days, but acknowledged the strength of the United Autosports car for protecting him. “A podium finish was on, but you can always say what could have been.

    “We had to be aggressive. For someone like me it's going to take a few days to get over, because it hurts when you let people down."


    And while the Scot admitted he was having trouble getting his tyres up to temperature, he refused to blame this for the crash.

    "I was struggling a bit, because as soon as I left the pits the safety car came out, just never really got the tyres up to temperature," he continued.

    "I'm not going to put it down to excuses, because I've more than enough experience under circumstances like that. It's just a law of averages, sometimes you blow it and I blew it today."


    The race was won by double Formula 1 World champion Alonso, and team-mates Sebastian Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, who led home a Toyota 1-2. It’s the first time the Japanese car giant has won the Le Mans 24-Hours and follows two years of heartbreak at the circuit.

    The win also completes the second leg of motorsport’s iconic Triple Crown: the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, Indy500 and Le Mans. All that remains now for Alonso is to win the Indy500, with the likelihood being he’ll race a full year in IndyCar next season.

    Related: BTCC triple champ Shedden switches to WTCR with Audi

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    Jim McGill


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