Wreckage from the Audi littered the gravel trap at Dunlop curve. Cameramen, circuit security and other assorted media personnel had been lucky to escape the barrel rolling R18 TDI as it teetered horrifyingly on top of the tyre wall for a split second, unsure which way to roll before deciding on trackside. Mercifully nobody was injured, and amazingly neither was Alan McNish. Badly shaken after connecting with the GT Pro Ferrari 458 of Anthony Beltoise that had sent him on his horror ride. But not injured.
Fast forward twelve months and everyone, but everyone, at La Sarthe hoped that nothing so violent would happen at the 80th running of the Le Mans 24hrs. It only took five hours though for another prototype – a Toyota this time – to connect with a Ferrari and send the LMP1 driver out of control.
End over end this time as the TS 030 hybrid was launched into a mid-air somersault, landing heavily back on its wheels before careening into the tyre wall at high speed, the fallen Ferrari of Piergiuseppe Perazzini following it in with equal force.
Though he’s set to make a full recovery, Anthony Davidson’s wild ride which resulted in two broken vertebrae would be the story of the weekend, and a stark reminder that the 24hrs endurance classic could be cruel as well as kind.