An accident during practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race has left one driver alive and well but knocked out of his seat. According to the FIA, Loic Duval was piloting the No. 1 Audi R-18 e-tron quattro in free practice on Wednesday, June 10, when, at 17:05, the car "left the track at high speed at the Porsche Curves, at Marshals Post No. 131."
According to NBC Sports, the crash caused a red flag that shortened practice for everyone in the session. At first, Duval was reported by Audi as "alert," but the FIA statement said he was immediately taken from the ACO Medical Center to the Le Mans Centre Hospitalier.
Further reports mentioned that Duval's condition was "encouraging," and that the driver suffered scratches to his arms and legs. Many speculated that perhaps he would still compete in this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans with co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Lucas Di Grassi defending a 2013 Le Mans victory.
An announcement was made later, however, that after more testing at the hospital, Duval was not cleared by doctors to race so will not participate in the iconic endurance race driving the No. 1 Audi. According to Speed, Duval is being replaced by JOTA Sport's Marc Gene as the third driver.
Gene competed for Audi in both 2012 and 2013 and won at Le Mans for Peugeot back in 2009. Spanish driver Gene was originally scheduled to drive the No. 38 Zytek-Nissan for the JOTA Sport team in LMP2.
Ironically, Duval had to take this news on his birthday; he turned 32 on June 12.
The crash caused more than a driver switch for the Audi team. The team is now also quickly rebuilding a car to run in the field. According to AutoWeek, no cause as yet has been determined for the crash.
TV schedule for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2014 (all times, Eastern):
Saturday, June 14 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (FOX Sports 1, LIVE)
Saturday, June 14 – 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, LIVE)
Saturday, June 14 -- 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m (FOX Sports GO, the network's mobile app)
Saturday, June 14 – 6:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. (Sun. 6/15) (FOX Sports 2, LIVE)
Sunday, June 15 – 2:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. (FOX Sports 1, LIVE)
Sunday, June 15 – 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (FOX Sports 2, LIVE)
This weekend marks the 82nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two of many highlights of this year's race are the return of Porsche to the competition with former Formula 1 Red Bull racer Mark Webber on its team and the youngest driver ever to start the race, Matt McMurry, 16, co-driving a Zytek Z11SN Nissan for Greaves Motorsport.