Katherine Legge says she’s felt comfortable getting “back on the horse” behind the wheel of a race car at Paul Ricard, on her return to the site of a major LMP2 accident last summer that left her with serious injuries including a broken left tibia and right ankle.
Legge was taken to hospital after the Oreca 07 Gibson she was testing went hard into the barriers beyond the fast Signes right-hander at the end of the Mistral Straight.
Despite feeling a “little bit apprehensive” during her first run through Signes aboard the No. 83 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 on Friday, the IMSA regular explained that she quickly managed to put her thoughts of the July 15 accident aside.
The Paul Ricard 1000km marks Legge’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup debut in the Pro-Am class alongside Sarah Bovy and Doriane Pin.
She made her racing return after the accident at Daytona in January, and also contested the recent FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa with Iron Lynx.
“The first time I went through Signes it was a little bit squeaky bum, and I definitely braked harder than I would normally,” she told Sportscar365.
“But after that it’s fine. You just accept it and get back on the horse. Not a pleasant experience. But everybody here was super cool about it, and they looked after me well.
“And it’s different because it was an LMP2 car and this is a GT car. It’s a totally different corner. In an LMP2 you just lift, but this is a significant brake and a downshift.”
Asked whether the accident was in her mind as she walked into the Paul Ricard circuit at the start of this weekend’s GTWC Europe meeting, Legge said: “A little bit, honestly.
“As I was driving here, I thought more about my dad. He was driving down all these winding roads trying to get to the hospital, and I felt worse for him than I did for me. I couldn’t believe I put him through that.
“But your subconscious has a really weird way of cutting off emotions to things like that, that have happened.
“So you can think about it and get a knot in your stomach, but you don’t really feel anything related to it. So you’re not scared or anything like that.”
Legge’s father is on-site at Paul Ricard, as he was at the time of the accident during a test for the opening round of last year’s European Le Mans Series.
Friday saw Legge take part in both Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying for Iron Lynx. She went on to set the fifth-fastest Pro-Am category time in the latter session.
Legge, Bovy and Pin have qualified 46th on the 47-car grid for this evening’s race.
“I haven’t done many laps to be honest, but it was only the first time through Signes that I felt a little bit apprehensive,” she said.
“After that, you just concentrate on driving the car. If it had been my fault, I would have thought about the accident very differently: ‘what did you do wrong’, and so on.
“When it’s just happening to you, it’s slightly different.”
“Learning Experience” for Iron Dames Crew
The Paul Ricard 1000km presents a steep learning curve for the Iron Lynx team’s all-female Iron Dames driver program, which is making its GTWC Europe debut in France.
Legge explained that she and her co-drivers are utilizing data from the sister Iron Lynx factory Ferraris to speed up the adaptation process.
The No. 83 Ferrari is running with ballast due to Pin’s derogation from Silver to Bronze* status for this event. Two Bronzes are required for a Pro-Am entry with three drivers.
“It’s a learning experience and a steep learning curve,” said Legge. “We have Rahel [Frey] here, helping with the teaching processes as well as taking a little bit of pressure off me.
“Obviously we have the two Pro cars. It’s good to have the data because we don’t have any time to make any setup changes significantly because we’re trying to get everybody cycled though.
“For me, it’s the first time to drive the car, so it applies to me as much as anyone else. I don’t know where we will stack up.
“I think it would be nice to be in the first half of the Pro-Am class by the finish. That would be the goal, top six or seven. But realistically, the goal is to make as little mistakes as possible.”