Mike Rockenfeller insisted he was lucky to escape with his life after his high-speed accident in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Rockenfeller had just moved into second place at the wheel of the #1 Audi R18 when he clashed with the GTE Ferrari of Rob Kaufmann shortly before 11pm on Saturday evening, with the Audi forced onto the grass when the Ferrari moved across on the high-speed kink on the run from Mulsanne to Indianapolis.
The German went into a spin that saw him make heavy impact with the barriers on the left hand side of the circuit before the car rebounded across the track and smashed into the circuit on the right-hand side, destroying the R18 but with the driver safety cell surviving intact.
Rockenfeller was able to get out of the car himself and climb over the barriers to safety before being taken to the medical centre and then on to hospital where he remained overnight as a precaution before being released on Sunday morning.
With the remnants of his car being unrecognisable after the accident, Rockenfeller was in no doubt about how big the incident had been.
"The safety standards at Audi are simply incredible and have saved my life,” he said. "I've never had such an accident before in my career and hope I'll never have such an experience again.”
Rockenfeller's accident came just hours after Allan McNish also crashed out of the race and Audi motorsport chief Wolfgang Ullrich admitted that the two incidents had made the race particularly tough for the Audi team – which ultimately went on to win the race thanks to lone remaining R18 in the race.
“Due to the two extremely serious accidents this has been the most difficult Le Mans race for us in an emotional sense so far,” he said. “That our team managed to keep the strong competition at bay for 16 hours with just one car is almost unbelievable. Everyone at Audi can be proud of this triumph. However, the news that Allan and Mike came out of these extremely heavy accidents so well is at least as important as that of the tenth Audi victory.”