Christophe Bouchut escaped injury in Sunday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Fuji following a massive fire for his Lotus CLM P1/01 AER in the closing stages of the race.
The Frenchman, who was running second in class and about to inherit the lead of LMP1-L, reported smoke coming from the cockpit and pitted with the German-built car ablaze.
While he quickly climbed from the entry, it took more than five minutes to control the fire, with crew from Rebellion Racing first on the scene to assist.
Local circuit crew and a fire truck followed thereafter, with Bouchut treated and released with only burns to his eyelashes.
According to engine partner AER, a fuel system failure was the root of the fire, which nearly destroyed the car.
“Everyone is disappointed, of course, because it seems this issue cost us a possible class victory and an almost definite second place finish, in addition to the cost of the damage sustained to the car and engine,” said Andrew Saunders, Engineering Manager for AER.
The extent of the damage is unclear at this point, leaving questions whether the car will be ready for the next round in Shanghai in just over two weeks’ time.
James Rossiter and Pierre Kaffer are listed to drive the car in China.