This just in from the Le Mans track: one of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro race cars race cars set to start in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event got blown to smithereens in a crash that occurred during practice.

The No. 1 R18 e-tron quattro had Loic Duval at its helm when it went airborne and slammed into a concrete wall with its rear end, Jalopnik reports. Although the hybrid vehicle sustained massive damage, Duval is conscious and talking, with no signs of severe injuries.

The Frenchman is, however, under intense medical observation in a nearby hospital. Judging by the way the car looks after the massive crash, Loic is one lucky fellow, but we have a hunch FIA’s demanding safety regulations and Audi’s adherence to them when designing the R18 played a key role in avoiding a tragedy.

Getting back to the wreckage, the footage reveals that likely nothing can be salvaged from the No. 1 car. Losing the chassis is terrible news for Audi, which now has to decide whether to bring a replacement unit and face a penalty or use only two cars in the big race.

The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro is supposed to lap the Circuit de la Sarthe with Loic Duval, Lucas di Grassi and Tom Kristinsen behind the wheel. The remaining cars will be driven by Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, Filipe Albuqurque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis.

Click past the jump to read more and watch footage from the scene.

Why It Matters

This is a big blow for Audi, although its skilled engineers have plenty of time to prepare a replacement car. A bigger problem is Duval’s health, because there’s a chance he might need to retire from the race. And since FIA doesn’t allow less than three drivers per car, Audi would have to bring in a new pilot as well. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Germans, but Duval’s absence may prove decisive in the outcome of the race.

2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1

2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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The 2014 iteration of the R18 e-tron quattro retains most of the shapes and lines seen on last year’s racer. As usual, the Le Mans-spec version is slightly longer than the car used in the World Endurance Championship, an obligatory update given Le Mans’ speedy configuration. The diesel-electric combo powering the R18 remained unchanged as well, but a couple of revisions increased the total output generated by the V-6 TDI mill.

Source: Jalopnik

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