Newly crowned Le Mans winner Robin Frijns says he avoided a collision with the man waving the finish flag by just half a meter.
Frijns nearly made contact with the official during an extremely close finish to the LMP2 race during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The scary situation occurred when the two Toyotas, which had crossed the line to take first and second overall, slowed down with some of the GTE cars behind following suit to avoid having to complete another racing lap.
Behind them, however, Frijns was battling with JOTA’s Tom Blomqvist over the top spot in LMP2 in a battle that went right to the line. As the two cars came around the final corner and encountered the slower cars ahead, Frijns swerved and nearly made collided with the official waving the chequered flag.
Speaking after the race, Frijns explained that he was aware that the two Toyotas were ahead of him, on account of Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima having exited the pitlane ahead of the Dutchman during their final stops.
“I knew it was coming, because they came out of the box just ahead of me with the last five laps to go,” he said. “I was trying to overtake them, but obviously they were quicker.”
“Obviously, everybody let them go because they don’t want to do an extra lap. So there were like three, four, five cars behind them, just waiting for the finish line.”
“And I was coming there with full speed with Blomqvist on my ass.”
When asked if he had to take avoiding action to prevent a collision with the official, Frijns replied:
“Yeah, because I turned right because an LMP2 in front of me slowed down after the last corner. But then the moment I turned right, I hit the Aston on the right rear.
“So basically the rear was coming, facing right and then I was turning hard left because I saw the chequered flag guy standing there. If I would hit the guy, he would be dead.”
When asked how much distance was between Frijns’ ORECA 07-Gibson and the official, the Dutchman replied: “It was like half a meter or something like that.”
Frijns took victory in an LMP2 race filled to the brim with twists and turns. The Dutchman’s #31 ORECA initially seemed to have the race well in hand until it got delayed by a broken airjack.
In the last minutes of the race, however, it regained the lead when the sister car broke down on the final lap with Yifei Ye behind the wheel, which handed the race back to Frijns.
Frijns ultimately resisted a charging Blomqvist to win the class.
“At the moment I feel kind of strange, to lead three quarters of the race and then losing it because of issues. Then got it back in the last lap, so obviously I’m happy, I’m also feeling strange you want to win on pure pace which I think we should have done if it wasn’t because of the issues.
“Seeing your sister car break down in the last lap is painful for the team. Especially because I think the team was spot on with their one-two throughout the whole race. So we should have finished one-two.”