Anthony Beltoise has admitted he didn't see Allan McNish's Audi bearing down on him following the dramatic accident that put the #3 Audi R18 out of the Le Mans 24 Hours in the first hour.
McNish was fighting for position with fellow Audi driver Timo Bernhard as the pair came up behind Beltoise's Luxury Racing Ferrari 458 after the Dunlop Bridge, with McNish diving down the inside of Bernhard into the sweeping right-hander after the bridge.
The Scot also tried to go inside Beltoise's Ferrari but contact with the GTE car turned in to take the corner saw the Audi go off across the gravel trap – smashing into the barriers and showering photographers on the outside of the circuit with debris.
The destroyed car came to rest upside down and had to be righted before McNish could climb from the car before being taken to the circuit medical centre and then on to hospital for precautionary checks.
Beltoise meanwhile was able to escape with relatively little damage to the Ferrari and rejoined after help from marshals trackside before bringing the car back to the pits.
“I have absolutely no idea what happened,” Beltoise said. “I was on my second lap after a pit stop. I didn't even see the Audi coming up behind me. The impact was very heavy. I'm disappointed for Audi, and I hope Allan is well. I'm doing fine, but I was just very surprised by the accident.”
Audi motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said the fact McNish was able to climb from the car was testament to the strength of the R18.
“The Ferrari closed the door, Allan had no chance whatsoever,” he said. “He went off very quickly, but luckily managed to get out of the car unharmed. To see that the cars are so strong is good, but that's not the way we like to demonstrate it.”