Sébastien Enjolras (lost footage of fatal 24 Hours of Le Mans pre-qualifying accident; 1997)
This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a fatal motor racing accident/disturbing visuals.
On 3rd May 1997, Sébastien Enjolras was competing in a pre-qualifying session for the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans, when his LMP2-class WR LM97-Peugeot suffered a rear bodywork failure. It resulted in the car becoming airborne, overturning over the safety barrier, and exploding, with the violent crash ending up decapitating Enjolras. While footage of the aftermath is publicly available, footage of the crash itself has been withheld from public viewing.
Earlier in 1997, Sébastien Enjolras was making a comeback in motorsport following a controversy the previous year where he tested positive to cannabis. After debuting in the French Formula 3 Championship, he received offers from both Henri Pescarolo and Rachel Welter to drive for them at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enjolras would join the latter's Welter Racing team, having competed for them in the previous Le Mans alongside William David and Arnaud Trévisiol.
The car he would be driving for the event was the WR LM97-Peugeot, a prototype built by Gérard Welter primarily for the purpose of achieving success at Le Mans. Enjolras therefore began driving the car for a pre-qualifying session held on 3rd May. As he was about a kilometre away from the Arnage corner, his Peugeot's rear bodywork broke loose, resulting in it becoming airborne. It then overturned, breaching the safety barriers, before exploding into flames. Enjolras was killed instantly, as the crash ended up decapitating him and severing some of his limbs.
Aged 21, Enjolras was considered one of France's most promising drivers of the era. Among his most notable achievements included setting a faster time than Formula One drivers Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at an indoor karting championship event at Bercy, Paris, as well as winning the 1996 Formula Renault Championship. Welter immediately withdrew her other Le Mans entrants as a mark of respect for Enjolras. Additionally, a memorial stone in honour of Enjolras was placed at the scene of his accident.
Photos and footage of the accident's aftermath is publicly available. However, it is known that pre-qualifying was generally recorded, and that footage of the fatal crash was captured. According to Influential Moments in Racing, said footage is thought to be in the possession of Peugeot, Aco, and Enjolras' family. It is unlikely to be released, not only out of respect to Enjolras and his relatives, but also because the video details Enjolras' fate in graphic detail.
- Archived Motorsport Memorial page for Sébastien Enjolras. Retrieved 29 Apr '22
- Historic Racing detailing the career of Enjolras Retrieved 29 Apr '22
- The Crash Photos Database detailing the accident and providing photos of it. Retrieved 29 Apr '22
- Fast Lane documenting the memorial stone present at the scene of the accident. Retrieved 29 Apr '22
- Influential Moments in Racing detailing the withheld footage of the accident. Retrieved 29 Apr '22