Anthony Davidson Q&A: “I reopened my eyes and realised I was still here…”

Anthony Davidson’s crash was one of the biggest talking points of the Le Mans 24 Hours, and while the Brit ended his Saturday evening in hospital with a back injury it clearly could have been a lot worse. Toyota provided this Q&A which – given the concern for Ant’s wellbeing – I thought was worth running here in full. Get well soon!

How do you feel?

I have 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?

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?

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 realized 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?

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?

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?

All the drivers have been. Stéphane and Sébastien turned up last night, the #7 guys 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?

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 #7. I think that was really good for the fans.

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Anthony Davidson Q&A: “I reopened my eyes and realised I was still here…”

  1. Yeah, that was pretty dramatic, I really felt worried for Ant there, mean, me myself in me office while he was in his office, obviously. Shame for Toyota factory team, they provided a glimpse of hope, at least Toyota-powered Lotus-branded Rebellion came home 4th, with Heidfeld still wearing the same colour racing overalls as last year! As Nick said, Audi was eventually going to run out of noses, if it was a 48-hour race…

    Anyway, very happy the crash went without major consequences given what’s happened during Targa Florio, motor racing is dangerous.

    Great job from Le Mans organizers, a very cool live streaming with various channels – F1 will never have it, ever. I’ll eat my hair if formula1.com starts transmitting live video from the races. WEC will kick F1 in the you-know-what; for an average fan, endurance racing looks much more attractive right now, unless you’re a die-hard driver fan, like Alonsista, Hamiltonoid or Schumachermaniac of course…

    Le Mans – the best a man(s) can get.

  2. jo6pac

    Thanks for going by talking to Anthony and may he have speedy recover.

    I agree with the comment on the live feeds, I’ll be catching more of this series in the future on my computer. F-1 still suck in we don’t want to invest the money because we need it in our pockets.

    I have no idea what can be done to stop this type of accident from happening in the future. The Porsche and Corvettes drivers don’t seem to have this problem. New drivers to these series need to have either more off track training in the fact that there are others on the track and it’s not all about you. Seeing the Ferrari driver interview was painful and it remind me of last yr same thing. Yes racing is dangerous.

    • Natthulal

      I have no idea what can be done to stop this type of accident from happening in the future. The Porsche and Corvettes drivers don’t seem to have this problem.
      >> The answer is, that indeed is the challenge/charm of endurance racing, where every driver is expected to negotiate cars running in different categories. Its not like in F1 where the drivers on the lead lap expect the back markers to go off racing line on the marbles ( and ruin their own race) the moment blue flags are waved and they have lead cars in their mirrors.

      Drivers of different categories, running on same track, doing long stints managing the top speeds of their own car, and not losing focus of traffic around them, one really has to appreciate the endurance racing drivers.

      Of course following LeMans through multiple channels as I.M.P.H has mentioned is really wonderful

  3. Loti

    Its very lucky that the Toyota landed on its wheels! What a strong car it is. Get well soon Ant.
    Despite some exciting racing, the stand out of this year’s Le Mans, for me, was the extraordinary rebuilds Audis did on those two cars and the Nissan Deltawing, which, I thought, for a brand new design did very well. Watching on Eurosport I must say, the coverage was very good and the commentators did a good job considering they reckon they had been sitting there talking for upwards of 40 hours!

  4. Terrifying incident with a lucky output. I truly hope that Antony recovers as fast as his car was going around, and the engineers and safety experts make some inferences as well.

  5. David Myers

    Seeing the same spelling mistake here and on Autosport’s website makes me think someone at Toyota needs a dictionary for Christmas. He has pain in the LUMBAR area, not lumber. Lumber = felled trees, lumbar = lower back.

    • Stone the Crows

      I agree, that is an annoying error.

    • It’s just a small typo, folks. Try mentioning that to Led Zeppelin fans… As a former linguistics student, I can guarantee you languages do change a lot with time. Maybe in 2022 lumbEr will have the same meaning as lumbAr or Davidson will become the 9-time Le Mans winner. You never know what future holds, aye?

      It’s also interesting how fans tend to call McLaren McClaren or Ferrari Farrari… However, the king of typos in the racing world is Tommi Hernandez from Catercheese, he calls his driver Kovalainen “Kovaleninen” on twitter all the time. Some memorable quotes there I hafta say.

      Back to Le Mans, Audi’s statement on their win was without typos but will stand forever as the worst bit of motorsport PR of the 21st century: I, me, mine all the way. C’mon Audi, the main competition was completely wiped out in the first couple of hours and your expertise on moderate racing can be quite decent but let’s take it easy. If it weren’t for Sgt. Kazookiman’s wild driving, the remaining Toybota with its mighty hybrid thingy would definitely outpace Audi with its feeble German hybrid thingy. Buemi was like on fire, dude, chopping away seconds and milliseconds every like lap! Yeah. Toybota rocks me world.

      • Stone the Crows

        I look forward toToyota turning ‘pace’ into ‘win’ but I doubt their public relations department (or anyone else for that matter) will turn lumbar into lumber in the next decade.

      • Natthulal

        I loved the irony of the statement “When the team visited we all gave each other a pat on the back for our performance. ” given the fact that the interview is of the driver who has injured his back in the accident :)

  6. Stone the Crows

    That was quite a mishap, the Toyota hit the barrier just in time. As bad as it was for Davidson, I’m glad it wasn’t worse. I think they’re going to have to re-evaluate the aero on these cars though, this sort of kiting off the track is becoming more and more common. Nascar made changes a few years ago to keep stock cars from going airborne, Formula One made similar changes when Mark Webber’s car launched into the air, one would think the same should be done for LeMans prototypes.

  7. john

    poor driving both ways you look at it davidson should have waited for the straight why risk the inside like that on a slower car lack of experience cost toyota get better drivers no need to past there its a 24 hour race later toyota 2013 be there

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