There were many unforgettable moments of the 89th 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race. The first and second place winning Toyota hypercars battled for position, a Ferrari lost a wheel, and a race leader stalled during the final lap! Many spectators remember the brutal double-impact suffered early on by Sophia Floersch. Learn more about the Sophia Floersch Le Mans crash, the second dramatic hospitalization of her racing career.
The 2018 Macau Grand Prix Sophia Floersch Crash
Sophia Floersch (born in 2000) began racing carts at just four years old before graduating to Formula 4 and Formula 3 as a teenager. A talented driver, Floersch (often written Flörsch), was recruited by Redbull at an early age and then selected for the Macau Grand Prix in 2018. Unfortunately, this race ended in a horrific crash in which her car tumbled through the air, and she fractured her vertebrate. After a grueling 10-hour surgery, Floersch returned to race Formula 3 and the Macau Grand Prix again.
Floersch began endurance racing in 2020. Her first endurance season culminated in driving the 24-hours of Le Mans for Richard Mille racing and finishing a respectable 9th in her class. In 2021, Floersch returned to Le Mans with big plans. But this race too would end in a disaster, with another Sophia Floersch crash
Le Mans 2021: Racing In The Rain
The Richard Mille Racing Team (previously the Signatech team) is a French-based endurance racing team. Like most contestants in the LMP2 class, the 2021 Richard Mille team ran a purpose-built Oreca 07 endurance race car. In addition to Sophia Flörsch, drivers included Tatiana Calderón and Beitske Visser.
Rain plagued the 89th annual 24-hour of Le Mans, causing multiple weather-related crashes. It rained on the Circuit de la Sarthe all morning. By race time, the weather was clearing but the track was still wet. The drivers had to complete an extra lap in formation before true racing began. Then six hours later, the rain started again. During this second rainstorm, the five pack-leading Hypercars stayed on the track but several LMP1 cars crashed in minor fender-benders and returned to the pits for repairs.
It seemed that the drivers all had the hang of racing in the rain. But you cannot let your guard down on one of the world’s deadliest racing circuits.
The Jarring Sophia Floersch Crash
Floersch and other drivers packed together as they all attempted to navigate the infamous “Porsche curves” S-turns. Then Argentinian driver Franco Colapinto lost control. His orange #26 G-Drive Aurus spun across the track and struck the front of Sophia Floersch #1 car. Floersch #1 Orteca spun around and hit the wall.
Colapinto slid to a stop off the track. But Sophia Floersch crashed off the barrier and found herself stranded in the middle of the dangerous S-turn. An emergency radio broadcast went out to the drivers to warn them of the Franco Colapinto and Sophia Floersch crash.
As spectators watched, Floersch started her car, shifted into reverse, and began to back off the track. Then the next pack of racers entered the S-turns, two-wide and fighting for position. With nowhere to go, racing Team India’s Eurasia Ligier #74 slammed into Floersch.
Every Le Mans car carries a g-force datalogger. During a severe accident, this g-force sensor activates a blue “medical light,” which means the driver must exit the car to be examined by medical professionals.
When #74 t-boned Floersch, the #1’s medical light came on, and spectators knew the Sophia Floersch crash was severe. Race officials called a yellow flag and hurried to the track to retire the #1 car and take Floersch to the hospital. Thankfully, Floersch was soon deemed healthy and released.
Why Sophie Floersch Was On The Phone
Some of Floersch concerned Formula 3 fans may have been confused, watching her in-car footage of the crash. After the #1 car was struck for the second time–by the #74 car–the engine stalled and Floersch was truly stranded. At this point, she got out a cellphone and called her teammates who are in the pit lane.
While on the phone, Floersch listened to her crew’s advice and tried several more things to get her car started and moving. But nothing worked. At this point, emergency personnel had entered the raceway and surrounded her car. One race official knocked on the #1’s window: as her medical light had come on, Le Mans had to begin its concussion protocol. Floersch apologizes to her team, “I have to come out.”
In Formula One, drivers are not allowed to use their phones while in the cockpit for any reason. But endurance racing is a different sport entirely. Every car carries a cellphone as a backup communication device. The Le Mans announcers were not surprised to see Flörsch on her phone, even concluding, “There must be a problem with the radio.”