Fan video reveals WEC driver’s huge airborne crash at Spa

World Endurance Championship

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A video shot by a fan (above) has revealed the shocking aerial crash suffered by WEC driver Matevos Isaakyan during last weekend’s Spa Six Hours.

Isaakyan’s BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 prototype became airborne after he left the track at Raidillon 133 laps into the race. The front of the car lifted at high speed and flipped Isaakyan into the barriers in a manner reminiscent of Peter Dumbreck’s famous Le Mans crash in 1999.

The full extent of the shunt, in which Isaakyan was unhurt, was not seen during the broadcast of the race (below). It was the second for a BR1 driver on that part of the circuit during the race weekend. Pietro Fittipaldi suffered leg fractures when he crashed his DragonSpeed-run car earlier in the same corner during qualifying.

Last weekend’s race was the debut for the BR Engineering-designed prototype. Isaakyan’s SMP Racing team mates Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin drove the third BR1 entered for the race and finished fifth. Jenson Button will join this car for the Le Mans 24 Hours later this month.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 18 comments on “Fan video reveals WEC driver’s huge airborne crash at Spa”

    1. Will this car pass scrutineering at Le Mans?

    2. So why did the WEC try to hide it?

      While I appreciate the increased social media presence of F1 and other motorsport series, I often get the feeling that they are using it just to sell me a fake product by exaggerating some aspects of the sport and ignoring some others.

      1. I agree that it’s strange that this has only come to attention solely by a fan video, but I think it’s a bit naive to try and separate “social media presence” and “marketing”. You could argue it’s fake, but marketing is in fact all about selling a product by creating a positive picture..

        1. “…marketing is in fact all about selling a product by creating a positive picture.”

          Not a positive picture, but an appealing/interesting one. This is sth very different!
          Spectacular car crashes in which nobody got hurt are highly marketable!
          Just like knock-outs in combat sports. It’s all about drama. Sports thrive on drama. It’s their lack of that’s unfavourable.

          The WEC dropped the ball on this one.

        2. @damon Yes, spectacular failures and crashes simply belong to motorsport, no matter if they happen because of driver errors or because there is something wrong with the car / regulations. One should not pretend that racing is only about quick qualifying laps, impressive overtaking and silly “banter” on Twitter.

          I obviously agree with RenĂ© – for a good reason, most restaurants do not have an open kitchen. But in this case I guess I do not want to buy that “fake” product and would prefer it to be more authentic.

      2. @girts This is purely speculation, but I assume that the accident was not picked up by the TV trackside cameras and therefore they had no actual footage of the incident to show even if they wanted to.

        There is obviously static footage from the CCTV cameras that is beamed into race control, but they may not necessarily want to share that publicly.

        1. @willwood Yes it is possible. What about the onboard camera though?

        2. Given where the accident happened (at the exit of Eau Rouge) I doubt they don’t have footage. They probably didn’t want to show a car getting airborne without any contact again (Mercedes 1999 Le Mans).

          I am starting to fear that some privateers LMP1 don’t have their cars figured out. Too much speed in under developed and tested cars creates dangerous situations. Lets hope I am wrong and we don’t see worse incidents.

          1. My thought is the car was launched by running over the curbing. The car is positioned all the way to the left of the curb as it crests the hill and flies over the run-off area. This looks like driver error to me. Once these cars launch they really fly; think of Mark Weber’s little incident when he flew into the trees.

          2. My fears exactly, after Pietro’s accident I was worried that something worse could happen. The trajectory is quite odd, like a direction failure. Now this?

            The new non-hybrid P1’s are amazingly fast and reliable for their age but hopefully they don’t have safety issues.

    3. Was the driver OK?

      1. @ahxshades Yes he was – have revised the above to make that clear.

    4. @keithcollantine – thanks for the update Keith – unhurt after that is miraculous really!

    5. Another example of how RB has been out of his game in the last few years. How have they missed this sponsoring opportunity?

    6. Woah.
      Didn’t Mark Webber have the same kind of crash in 1999 as well? Peter Dumbreck isn’t quite the first name that comes to my mind when I see a car flipping over like that.

      1. That’s right. Mercedes-Benz withdrew their cars and dropped out of the series.

      2. It was little different. Webber was going much faster and went over the top of the hill. This made the nose of the car go little high which meant the nose went up. Imagine what happens when you have lots of downforce on the rear, aerodynamic lift on the front and the floor of the car does’t provide any downforce because it becomes useless when the ground clearence or angle becomes too high. It is effectively a plane taking off.

        With this formula and the prototype in the video the car was launched into the air because of those rumble strips. The strips launch the front of the car in air after which you have same phenomena as the mercedes in the webber incident. The camera doesn’t fully show how steep the hill is in that corner but that also contributed as the prototype went over the top of the hill just like webber’s car did. Front wing loses downforce, floor loses downforce, all downforce on rear.

        It was the same aerodynamics at work but the incidents were triggered by different things.

        Safest bet is to remove those strips.

    7. An F3 car also got launched having run over those white raised strips on the runoff 2 years ago.

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