Video: Lotus Elise Crashes Heavily at Donington Park!

Even if you’re as talented as Ryan Savage, you’re never above a terrifying wreck like this one. The frightening reality of motorsport is that, even if you drive sensibly, softly, and with plenty of mechanical sympathy, the abuse hard lapping puts on a car can cause components to fail. This is what happened to Savage, or so it seems.

During a remarkably fast and precise lap through England’s Donington Park, Savage’s Lotus goes into a high-speed slide, and there’s nothing the driver, even with speedy reactions, can do. It’s a terrifying demonstration of how things can go from pleasant to awful in a few seconds.

As Savage descends down into Donington’s challenging Craner Curves, the rear snaps away. The Craner Curves are much steeper than the picture suggests, and the apex, which Savage turns towards when the rear lets go, is completely blind in a Lotus Elise 111R racer.

Even Savage's quick countersteering couldn't save him at this point.

Even Savage’s quick countersteering couldn’t save him at this point.

Once the rear lets go, Savage is simply along for the ride. He enters the curve at about 110, and slides across the grass, which offers no deceleration whatsoever, before colliding with the concrete wall at tripe-digit speeds.

“I believe the concrete wall is dangerous. If I had hit the wall head on or been travelling with a passenger it could have been a lot more serious and someone could have been severely injured or worse,” he remarked. Fortunately, the young man had the good luck of hitting the wall end-first, which, in conjunction with modern safety equipment, allowed him to walk away with a rotator cuff injury and a mild concussion, which might explain him later saying, “I remember getting out of the car then sitting down at the side of the race track but I don’t remember anything after that.” Considering the severity of the crash, that’s miraculous.

The severity of the crash bend the frame; rendering it unrepairable. Image credit: Bang Shift

The severity of the crash bend the frame; rendering it unrepairable. Image credit: Bang Shift

Of course, the YouTube comment section is filled with callous armchair experts offering driving tips and asserting that it was his skill—or lack of it—that caused the incident. While his steering inputs are arguably forceful, it’s doubtful those are what caused the car to rotate at those speeds; going by the vehicle behavior and engine note, it doesn’t appear to be a case driver error. In Savage’s defense, he logged the class record earlier in the day, as seen here:

His team attributes the monstrous crash to a suspension failure; a bolt shearing on the rear upright, or a toe link failure. External footage suggested the right-rear wheel took on an odd angle before the car broke loose. What is certain is that the young racer, now aged just twenty, was incredibly lucky to escape in such good shape. Fortunately, the owners of Donington Park relocated the wall bordering the Craner Curves another thirty feet further from the track, and hopefully, nobody else will have to endure a crash of that biblical magnitude.


About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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