Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Gilles Villeneuve Killed During Qualifying In Belgian - May 8, 1982

May 8, 1982
Gilles Villeneuve
(Photo: IDR via photopin cc)
On May 8, 1982, during the final qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, teammate Didier Pironi had set a time 0.1s faster than Villeneuve for sixth place. Villeneuve return to the track on his final set of qualifying tyres, some say he was attempting to improve his time on his final lap, while others suggest he was specifically aiming to beat Pironi, who Villeneuve felt betrayed him at the previous San Marino Grand Prix

With eight minutes of the session left, Villeneuve came over the rise after the first chicane and caught Jochen Mass travelling much more slowly through Butte, the left-handed bend before the Terlamenbocht double right-hand section. Mass saw Villeneuve approaching at high speed and moved to the right to let him through on the racing line. At the same instant Villeneuve also moved right to pass the slower car. The Ferrari hit the back of Mass' car and was launched into the air at a speed estimated at 200–225 km/h (120–140 mph). It was airborne for more than 100 m before nosediving into the ground and disintegrating as it somersaulted along the edge of the track. Villeneuve, still strapped to his seat, but without his helmet, was thrown a further 50 m from the wreckage into the catch fencing on the outside edge of the Terlamenbocht corner.

Several drivers stopped and rushed to the scene. John Watson and Derek Warwick pulled Villeneuve, his face blue, from the catch fence. The first doctor arrived within 35 seconds to find that Villeneuve was not breathing, although his pulse continued; he was intubated and ventilated before being transferred to the circuit medical centre and then by helicopter to University St Raphael Hospital where a fatal fracture of the neck was diagnosed. Villeneuve was kept alive on life support while his wife travelled to the hospital and the doctors consulted with specialists worldwide. At 9:12 that evening, racing lost a legend.

The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Early Years

The Gilles Villeneuve Story - Home Hero And Legend Arrives

The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Tragedy

The Gilles Villeneuve Story - The Legacy

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