Authorities say it’s too early to determine speed in Schumacher accident

Leave a comment

French investigators and authorities provided an update on the progress into determining the cause of Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident.

At the moment, they are unable to determine the speed, said it was too early to say who or what was responsible, but also said that as an experienced skier Schumacher performed “completely normal behavior by a good skier on this terrain.”

The 2-minute video clip authorities reviewed came via the GoPro camera affixed to Schumacher’s helmet. Prosecutor Patrick Quincy determined the rock Schumacher hit was 8 meters off piste, and that the film review confirms all the information they already had.

“This film is perfectly clear and gives us a lot of information, and confirms all the information we already had,” Quincy said.

Added Quincy on exactly what happened, “(Schumacher) reached an intersection between a red and blue one. He went down the red piste and went off piste. He’s evidently a very good skier. But one of his skis hit a rock that was sticking out and it caused him to fall and hit his head on the rock.”

They are using the film to complete a reconstruction of the accident. As this is still early in the process, neither Quincy nor French police were able to make any specific determinations on responsibility. They have been consulting with Schumacher’s family as they are going through this investigation.

With the speed undetermined, the authorities will speak to experts and be able to reveal that later on. Because he was off piste, it was difficult to slow down, they said.

The state of the snow itself “wasn’t great,” according to Quincy, but he also said he wasn’t really analyzing that at the moment. They did rule out the skis themselves as the cause, and noted the scratch underneath the skis that confirmed hitting the rock.

As others have this week, the authorities continued to ask the media to respect the family’s privacy.

Schumacher remains in critical condition and in a medically induced coma at University Center Hospital in Grenoble, France.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne