April 3, 2011

Le Mans SERIES Pace car FAIL!!!

Rolling starts are done, ostensibly, because they are safer than standing ones but witness this cluster-start at today's Le Mans Series 6 hour race at Le Castellet, inaugural event of the season.

The front straight at Paul Ricard HTTT has a slight hump making it impossible for someone at the top of the straight to be sighted. What's clearly visible though are the start lights on the gantry above the track....

Green, green, green.... one slight problem, the pace car never pulled off the track so the guys in front need to get on the brakes hard with predictable consequences at the back of the field.

I'm guessing ALMS officials are having a bit of a chuckle at this one.

UPDATE: Porsche is protesting the start procedure, see Porsche's statement after the jump

Press Release 03/04/2011

Le Mans Series, round 1 in Le Castellet, France

Early retirement for Porsche teams as victims of start crash

Stuttgart. At the season-opener of the Le Mans Series, four of the five Porsche 911 GT3 RSR were caught up in a start crash that was not their fault. For all three professional Porsche teams contesting the GTE-Pro class, this marked an early end in Le Castellet after their vehicles suffered too much damage. After the formation lap, the safety car stayed out on the track with lights off while the start lights for the race were turned to green. This led to an unfortunate chain reaction: The back-markers in the field were still accelerating while those at the front were braking hard. The starter field was pushed together over the entire width of the track, leading to a collision. Luckily, the Porsche drivers remained largely uninjured.

After six hours of racing, the sole, unaffected Porsche 911 GT3 RSR brought home victory in the newly-created GTE-Am sports car class. In this class, only one professional driver is permitted per vehicle. The second 911 in the GTE-Am class received the flag in sixth, after the vehicle underwent extensive repairs due to the start crash.

“Well, that was the shortest race of my life,” said Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) laconically. “After the formation lap, the lights were already green, but because of the packed field it wasn’t possible to register that the safety car hadn’t yet left the track. Suddenly I was torpedoed from the left and pushed into the wall. I had no chance to avoid the accident.” Lietz’s teammate Marc Lieb (Germany) summed up: “This is a nightmare for us. All three GTE-Pro 911 have been shunted out of the race through no fault of our own. Richard and I had a great race set-up. Maybe we could have managed a podium result. For the next race in Spa, this means we have to go hard out.” Last year, the Felbermayr-Proton duo, Lieb and Lietz, claimed victory at Le Castellet which laid the foundation for their title win in the sports car class.

The start driver for ProSpeed Competition, Porsche works driver Marco Holzer (Germany), was relieved he could get out of his demolished 911 GT3 RSR without serious injury. “After the start lights turned green everyone accelerated,” said Holzer. “Then suddenly they slammed on the brakes at the front. I was hit hard from the rear and slid sideways over the circuit, nudging another vehicle in the process.” Holzer contests his second season for the Belgian squad in the LMS. His teammate in the 2011-version 911 is race professional Marc Goossens (Belgium).

Factory pilots Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) were also caught up in the crash. The mechanics from IMSA Performance Matmut even attempted to repair the badly damaged 911 GT3 RSR, but the damage was too severe to repair at the track in time.

With this, the pleasure of winning the GTE-Am class with Felbermayr-Proton’s 2010-spec 911 was somewhat dampened. The performance of the team was particularly astounding considering that the blue Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was manned by three ambitious gentlemen drivers. Team owner Christian Ried (Germany) shares the cockpit with two Austrians Horst Felbermayr Junior and Horst Felbermayr Senior. The French duo Nicolas Armindo and Raymond Narac achieved sixth in the GTE-Am class after their 911 GT3 RSR underwent 75 minutes of repairs. The disappointment was particularly bitter because Armindo, as LMS new-comer, had built up the hopes of his IMSA Performance Matmut squad for a class win after posting the best time in qualifying.

Statistics: 1st race LMS in Le Castellet, F
Result class GTE Am*
1. Ried/Felbermayr Jr./Felbermayr Sen. (D/A/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 167 laps
2. Perazzini/Cioco/Lerneret (I/I/B), Ferrari F430, 167
3. Broniszewski/Peter (PL/A), Ferrari F430, 167
4. Christodoulou/Hummel/Quaife (GB/NL/GB), Ferrari F430, 166
6. Armindo/Narac (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 137

* The result is preliminary, as a protest against the start procedure and hence the race classification has been made.


  1. I was watching it live AC

    I can't beleive that with all the radios & technology avalable to the organisers, that such a potentialy disasterous mistake could be made, thank god no one was hurt.

    Shockingly poor organisation! :(

  2. More like Axis Of Oversteer FAIL!!! The yellow flags are totally obvious, keeping the pace out well past pit entrance. Race director is responsible for observing a clear track. He did not, risking everyone's life, and this potentially deadly incident is the inevitable result.

    Don't listen to the pundits on the TV. Use your own eyes.

  3. Anonymous makes a fair point, the first marshall station past the start finish line was waving a yellow flag, looks like before any accident.

  4. Ah yes, because Axis is, in fact, in charge of race direction :)

    If we were in charge we would have made sure the pace car driver knew that if his lights are off, that means he's coming in...

    In any cas,e that a comunication snafu like that would happen at Paul Ricard, probably the world's most advanced track in terms of cameras and communications is quite peculiar to say the least.

  5. "I'm guessing ALMS officials are having a bit of a chuckle at this one."

    ??? This is not the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), this is the similar Euro series.

  6. you're not aware of the somewhat "complicated" relations between ALMS and ACO?

  7. It's not the first time that the LMS completely messes up a race with a wrong use of the Safety Cars.

    None of the previous mistakes caused such a chaos and physical damage, but ACO really needs to sit down and think how to solve the issue. It can't be accepted by a Championship that pretends to be the top of Endurance Racing...

  8. The word you are looking for is "ostensibly", not "ostensively".

    How could you believe that the race directors would be having a "bit of a chuckle" at this potentially deadly mishap? Shock. horror, dismay, yes. Humor? That makes you sound like some addled adolescent that has been raised on a diet of WWF and Nascar.

  9. Thank you Mr.Humorless.... look, ACO is always looking down their nose at ALMS then they pull something like this. I'm guessing if this happened in the STates, the French would tsk-ing for weeks.

  10. To bad every driver missed the yellow flags prohibiting passing...I wonder if the stalled car had something to do with it.

    1. A stalled car during a rolling start?


      The yellow flags were out because the safety car didn't go in.

  11. I may be going out on a limb here, but if the lights on the safety car are off and the starting light is green, i'm going.

    These guys are paying attention to a hundred different things and you really don't expect that during a start.

    Don't go pointing the fingers just at the drivers.

  12. Never said anything about it just being the drivers...but yellow flags are pretty important things to pay attention to...and why would the start of the race be different?


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