Lucas di Grassi will take no part in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans after breaking his fibula in the lead-up to the event while playing soccer.
Di Grassi had been due to race for AF Corse in the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE at Le Mans alongside James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, marking his debut in GTE-Pro.
The Brazilian was walking gingerly over the Berlin Formula E weekend and unable to bear much weight on his right foot, but raced on regardless for both of the all-electric series’ races last Saturday and Sunday.
Getting around the paddock, di Grassi made use of a small scooter in order to avoid putting any extra strain on his ankle, but was limping when he took to the podium in Berlin unaided.
Di Grassi made the trip to Le Mans and was at the track with AF Corse on Tuesday and Wednesday, before it was confirmed to Sportscar365 that he would take no part in the event due to safety reasons, as per a spokesperson from Ferrari.
I'll sadly miss this year's #LeMans24 with a broken fibula that requires surgery. This was a hard decision but I'm following medical advise.
— LUCAS DI GRASSI (@LucasdiGrassi) June 14, 2017
Di Grassi has been replaced in the car by Michele Rugolo, an AF Corse regular, who has raced at Le Mans on four previous occasions.
The reigning Asian Le Mans Series champion’s most recent appearance came in 2014 with AF Corse in the GTE-Am class.
Rugolo was already present at Le Mans as he is due to contest the Road to Le Mans support event in the No. 55 Spirit of Race Ligier JSP3 alongside Claudio Sdanewitsch.
Sportscar365 understands that the Italian will uphold his prior commitment.
Rugolo was quickly parachuted into the No. 51 Ferrari at Le Mans, heading out on-track during the free practice session soon after the announcement was made.
While a penalty would ordinarily be awarded for a late driver change, AF Corse does not expect to receive one as the late change is due to medical reasons, coming under force majeure.
This will be the first 24 Hours of Le Mans that di Grassi has missed since 2012, having raced for Audi Sport Team Joest in LMP1 from 2013 to 2016, scoring three overall podium finishes in that period.