Connect with us

FIA WEC

DragonSpeed Waiting for Answers on Fittipaldi Crash

DragonSpeed will not return with BR1 until root cause determined after Fittipaldi crash…

Photo: MPS Agency

DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian says they will not return to LMP1 competition with a BR Engineering BR1 prototype until the full cause of the accident that’s left Pietro Fittipaldi in the hospital has been determined.

The 21-year-old Brazilian sustained multiple leg fractures after his Gibson-powered BR1 had an apparent electrical glitch and went straight into the barriers at Eau Rouge in qualifying for the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening Total Six Hours of Spa.

Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Formula One world champion Emerson, was airlifted to a hospital in Liege, where he underwent successful surgery to repair a compound fracture to his left leg and a broken right ankle.

The impact, which destroyed the Dallara-built prototype, has forced the American team to re-evaluate the next steps for its LMP1 program.

“For now it’s parked until we know what happened,” Julian told Sportscar365. “If they gave me a brand-new one tomorrow, I’d still need to know what happened.

“The next person that drives the car will be myself. I’m not putting my drivers into the car until I drive it and I clear it. I can’t have people getting hurt in my team; it’s never happened before.”

While not outright confirming power steering failure, triggered by the electrical glitch, Julian said they have “some clues” as to the root cause of the issue that sent Fittipaldi into the barriers.

It’s understood the team had been batting chronic electrical issues since taking delivery of the Russian-badged prototype in March.

“It’s obvious; It’s easy to see what happened. But why did it happen?” Julian said. “Until we understand why it happened, we won’t run a car.

“The car is not a DragonSpeed-built car. I bought it from a pretty big company.”

SMP Racing also faced electrical gremlins throughout the car’s debut race weekend, with the No. 17 BR1 AER of Stephane Sarrazin having stopped on track in qualifying with electrical failure.

Sarrazin’s co-driver Matevos Isaakyan, meanwhile, crashed out in the closing stages of the race, also at Eau Rouge, with the cause of his accident unclear. 

Investigations Underway at BR, Dallara

BR Engineering, which has contracted Dallara for the build and design of the BR1, has begun investigations into both accidents, according to a company spokesperson.

“We want to double check everything before any conclusions are made,” the spokesperson told Sportscar365. “We will be looking thoroughly together with Dallara into both cases, especially the one of Pietro.”

Despite two destroyed cars, the representative said they will be ready for Le Mans, despite reports of no spare LMP1 tub currently being available.

Julian, meanwhile, is thankful Fittipaldi’s injuries were not worse, considering the location and severity of the impact.

“I’m just really happy Pietro will be OK,” he said. “We’ve all had broken bones and it was a big one and he was lucky. We’re all lucky as a community.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Brent

    May 7, 2018 at 10:44 am

    What a stand up guy ! I have new found respect for Elton.

  2. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    May 7, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Not surprised to see this, Dallara has some questions to answer about this car for sure. I can’t believe they don’t have another tub or two at least in build that could be ready for the LM24.

    • Jack

      May 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      They don’t have tubs now, but will for Le Mans. Says in article

  3. Timing & Scoring

    May 7, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Elton was a real racer as a driver, now he is class act and a total professional as a team owner. He will find out what happened and make it right.

  4. Tim Lawrence

    May 7, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Good, solid & professional response. Two BR1’s have accidents in the same corner, so possibly similar conditions, which suggests there may be some common factors. Until investigated, EJ is correct to question.

  5. Daniel

    May 7, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Class act all the way.

  6. Antonio Desmond Miles

    May 7, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I agree totally with Tim Lawrence. Something’s not right with the BR1/Dallara chassis, which is quite a black eye for them. Back @ Le Mans 2011 2 Audis had massive crashes but both drivers walked away. Rinaldo Capello made the unforgettable statement during the race “feeling safe when driving an Audi” which was quite the testament. I sure do hope Elton gets to the root cause of these strange issues. We don’t need any more casualties so kudos to him for looking out for his team.

  7. southcove

    May 8, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Wondering if anyone has said that the tub or safety systems ‘underperformed’? Since all need to be built around the same set of regs and there is crash testing of the baseline tub at some point. Bosch, Magneti Marelli, and others, why not have someone else build up the wiring loom and BUS systems, etc. Black eye at this point on Dallara.

  8. daedalus

    May 8, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Reminds me of the electrical gremlins the LMP2 Dallara had when introduced last year. I hope they get it sorted for le mans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in FIA WEC