Dirk Mueller and Renger van der Zande said they took ‘no-brainer’ decisions to help fellow drivers following seperate accidents in qualifying for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Both drivers stopped on track and jumped out of their cars to come to the aid of fellow drivers during a carnage-filled afternoon at Mount Panorama, which saw at least three cars totaled in high-speed shunts at the top of the Mountain.
Former Ford GT factory driver Mueller, driving in a Mercedes-AMG GT4 this weekend, came to the scene of the No. 777 Triple Eight-run Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Sam Shahin, who was collected in a multi-car accident at McPhillamy Park.
Mueller told Sportscar365 he wasn’t sure what to expect when he saw the door still shut on Shahin’s Mercedes.
“I was on a hot lap and the team radioed in and said, ‘Big accident, be careful,'” Mueller told Sportscar365. “I knew I wasn’t the first car and I came around the corner and I saw the big mess.
“I saw the door was still shut, so for me it was a no-brainer just to stop the car and run over. I thought the guy was either hurt or unconscious.
“I ran over, opened the door and but he had tried to get out already. I could talk to him and he knew who he was and everything.
“The car was not on fire so there was no rush. I tried to help him getting out as he was a little shaky. Then the car got a little fire on the exhaust. It was minor so I shut off the ignition and everything. It was nothing special.”
While climbing from the car under his own power, Shahin has been transported to a local hospital for precautionary checks.
Less than one hour later, in the opening stages of Q2, van der Zande was faced with a similar situation when he saw Marvin Kirchhoefer’s massive accident, nearly in the same part of the track.
“I came by and saw his head hanging forward,” van der Zande told Sportscar365.
“He looked like he was passed out. The only thing I could think of at that moment, if I was him, the first thing I’d like to see when I wake up is a guy that I know.
“You hope that it’s a guy what the deal is.
“Quite quickly I ripped off the door and I saw he was OK. I asked, ‘Are you OK?’ and he said he was fine. He jumped out.”
Van der Zande: Drivers Taking “Stupid” Risks
The Dutchman, who is making his first Bathurst start in four years as part of Honda Team JAS’ lineup, said he believes drivers are taking risks too early into the weekend.
Saturday’s track action has so far seen six cars sustain either significant or weekend-ending damage, with all of the accidents largely being driver-induced.
“It’s been stupid, really, the way people are crashing,” van der Zande said.
“I look with two eyes, as a driver and as an insurance business guy.
“We’re insuring drivers and cars, and from both sides I think it’s stupid to be taking these risks at the beginning of the weekend.
“We qualified 25th and I see us still having a chance to win this race tomorrow.
“Why would you risk that much in qualifying if you can strategy-wise know that this race is not won in the first lap. It’s also not won in qualifying.
“I think these drivers should think a little bit more on when they should take risks.
“Of course if a flat tire puts you into the wall, that’s not your fault. But anything else, this is a track that’s not for little boys.
“It’s a track where you need to have big balls, but big balls with a big brain as well.”
Slade Perrins contributed to this report