On what was otherwise a forgettable day for Onroak Automotive – 10 of its 11 entered chassis finished the race, but none higher than sixth in the 23-car LMP2 class – quadruple amputee Frederic Sausset provided both the brand’s and one of the race’s most inspiring stories.
Sausset lost all four limbs due to a bacterial infection several years ago, but he did not lose his spirit.
Driving a modified Morgan Nissan LMP2 car, Sausset could be inserted and “ejected” out of the seat using a lift in the experimental Garage 56 entry for the race.
Prior Garage 56 entries focused on innovative technology (the original Nissan DeltaWing and Nissan ZEOD RC were the two past Garage 56 runners in 2012 and 2014, respectively), while the adaption of the car to allow someone with no limbs to drive it made this car the entry this year.
Forgetting the fact the car and driver not only started, more importantly and perhaps impressively, it finished.
Sausset became the first quad amputee to drive at Le Mans. During the week, he drove 69 laps of the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe and posted a best lap time of 4:00.656, which was ahead of 14 other drivers (all but one in GTE-Am machinery, and ahead of one LMP2 driver, Remy Striebig in a standard Morgan Nissan).
Together with co-drivers Christophe Tinseau and Jean-Bernard Bouvet, the No. 84 SRT41 by OAK Racing entry finished 38th overall and completed 315 laps, thus becoming the first Garage 56 entry to finish the race. The trio was honored in a special post-race podium ceremony.
“I also want to congratulate Frédéric Sausset, as well as all those around him, especially his wife, for this exploit which is a magnificent lesson in living,” Onroak Automotive president Jacques Nicolet, a Le Mans regular who wasn’t driving himself this year, said in a release.