After suffering a disappointing loss at the 24 Hours Le Mans event, JOTA Sport LMP2 driver (and Formula E champion) Antonio Felix da Costa revealed that the seatbelt scare at Le Mans he had experienced may have been the main reason that his team missed out on the victory.
Along with his team mates, Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davison, the JOTA team achieved a finish in second place in the JOTA’s Goodyear-shod #38 Oreca 07. They achieved this by positioning themselves at an irritating 30 seconds behind the winners Paul di Resta, Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson – now known as the United Autosports crew that earned the most recent win at Le Mans.
Throughout the race, da Costa had seemed to be closing in on the lead spot, before he lost about a minute in time due to an unscheduled pit stop break. This was rumoured to have been related to a problem with his seat belt. It was later discovered that the JOTA driver had actually completed more than half a lap of the race at a reduced speed without his seatbelt safely secured.
He later revealed that he had accidently released his seatbelt himself while trying to make a small adjustment. He had initially rushed at the previous pit stop which resulted in his seatbelt being refitted too tight for the remaaining time he had left to race, which he had attempted to adjust himself.
Antonio expressed how he felt a great sense of disappointment when he realised his seat belt had completely come undone, as he and his team had worked so hard in the previous 6 hours to reduce their time, to only being out by a mere 20 seconds! A lot of hard work and dedication had to be dismissed however, as his safety was paramount. So he radioed in to the pit stop explaining that he was so sorry however he had to box.
It was argued that as a team, the JOTA team would have won the race by a longshot had Antonio and the pit crew taken an extra second on the refuel stop to avoid the seatbelt scare at Le Mans. Although this loss will hurt the team more than others, the safety of all involved was the greatest trophy won at Le Mans that day.
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