Audi on top, Toyota suffer on Le Mans return

British driver Anthony Davidson survived a spectacular crash at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race on Saturday when his Toyota collided with a Ferrari, the clash sending his car airborne and out of the event.

The incident happened in the fifth hour of the famed endurance race at Mulsanne Corner as Davidson's Toyota was clipped by the Ferrari of Piergiuseppe Perazzini.

Davidson's vehicle left the race track, and turned on its side before smashing into the tyre barrier.

The Ferrari also ended upside down as the safety car was summoned and the race stopped.

A spokesman for Toyota, who have returned to the race for the first time in 13 years, said that Davidson was not seriously hurt.

"Anthony Davidson was taken to the circuit medical centre following his accident during the Le Mans 24 Hours," said the spokesman.

"Doctors at the circuit have confirmed that Anthony is suffering from shock and back pain, however there are no signs of any injuries and he is walking and talking with no problems.

"He will be taken to a local hospital for precautionary checks but the team is relieved and happy to hear he is okay."

Both Davidson's Toyota and the Ferrari of Perazzini were so badly damaged that they were ruled out of the rest of the race which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

Former Formula One driver Sebastien Buemi, a teammate of Davidson's, said the car had been quick before the crash.

"We started very well. We lost a bit of time to the leaders but we still had good pace," he said.

"I had a really good quadruple stint and was able to catch up. I was satisfied with my performance and we clearly showed that the car is quick.

"However, the most important thing at the moment is that Anthony is well. Unfortunately these kind of incidents happen in motor racing. It is a pity that the car is out of the race as I believe we could have continued fighting at the front."

Things then got steadily worse for the Japanese manufacturer when their second factory entry slipped 25 laps off the pace at the nine-hour mark.

Kazuki Nakajima, who was at the wheel at the time, came into contact with the Nissan DeltaWing driven by Japanese compatriot Satoshi Motoyama.

Nakajima had to gently nurse the damaged Toyota back to the garage.

After repairs, the car returned to the track before Alexander Wurz then had to bring it back in again for a new alternator.

As Toyota struggled, it was Audi, seeking an 11th win in the last 13 outings, who were in control with last year's victor Andre Lotterer back in the lead ahead of teammate Allan McNish who was two minutes behind.

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