During the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, Toyota Racing’s Anthony Davidson suffered a heavy accident at the wheel of the number eight TS030 Hybrid when he was hit by a lapped car. He will remain in hospital until Wednesday to begin the recovery process after suffering two broken vertebrae in the impact.
The strength of the TS030 Hybrid chassis, designed and produced at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, protected Anthony from a more serious outcome. Initial examinations of the chassis suggest it is intact and can be used again.
Anthony Davidson, how do you feel after the accident?
Anthony Davidson (AD): I’ve felt better, that’s for sure. I am in a bit of pain, in my lumber area, the middle area of my back. That’s the only thing that hurts really so I’ve been lucky.
What’s the diagnosis and when will you be back?
AD: Basically I have two broken vertebrae; T11 and T12. The doctors say the average recovery time is three months, 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.
Can you describe what happened to cause the accident?
AD: 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 realised 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.
Can you describe what happened then?
AD: 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.
What happened when the car came to a stop?
AD: 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.
Has the team visited you already?
AD: All the drivers have been. Stéphane and Sébastien turned up last night, the guys from the number seven car this morning. And it was a nice touch that my team-mate last year Sébastien Bourdais came to the medical centre. It was nice to see a familiar, friendly face at that moment. All the team came over this morning to check how I was.
What is your feeling about the TS030 Hybrid’s race debut?
AD: When the team visited we all gave each other a pat on the back for our performance. 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 number seven. I think that was really good for the fans.
Details in this article were correct at the time of publication.