AF Corse driver Francois Perrodo has apologized for the accident that took not only took out his GT Le Mans class Ferrari F458 Italia but also eliminated TRG-AMR’s lead Aston Martin V12 Vantage from contention in last weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. (En Français)
The Frenchman, who teamed with Emmanuel Collard and Ferrari factory drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, made contact with another car and spun at the hairpin in the eighth hour, and rejoined the track in front of the No. 007 Aston Martin of Brandon Davis, who had no time to react.
The heavy accident resulted in retirement for the No. 51 Ferrari, which had started on the front row of GTLM, while the TRG Aston salvaged a 13th place finish in GTD after extensive repairs.
“This was 100 percent my fault,” Perrodo told Endurance-Info. “For a second of distraction, the consequences are enormous. My first stint was quite difficult and it took time to get into a rhythm.
“The aim was to run 2 seconds [a lap] from my teammates, which was the case. But I have the disadvantage of not being quite [sharp] through traffic.
“I followed a Porsche GTD into Turn 3 and I though the driver saw me. There was slight contact and I went for a spin and then I found myself in the middle of the hairpin.
“The first thing that came to mind was to restart. I look up and my vision was hampered by the low wall. Upon leaving, the Aston Martin arrived and the shock was inevitable.
“I’m not looking for any excuses. I’m sorry to AF Corse, my teammates and the Aston Martin team. My start to the season has been a nightmare. I’ve replayed the scene so many times. This will remain a lesson.”
Despite the tough end to the race, Perrodo praised the work of the Italian squad and also his co-drivers in what was the gentleman driver’s debut on the Daytona high banks.
“I fully assume [responsibility] of my mistake,” he added. “I was in ‘safe mode’ rather than ‘attack mode.” But on the other hand it was a rewarding experience to race with professional driver, even if the ending was dramatic.
“On paper, it was really something good for me. I found that Gimmi and Toni are true professionals at the peak of their careers in GT. I was impressed by their level of perfectionism.”
Following consecutive seasons of European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship competition, Perrodo is set for a return to FIA WEC action this year with AF Corse, sharing a GTE-Am class Ferrari with Collard and Rui Aguas.