Slow puncture caused Alboreto accident

Accident investigators in Germany say that a punctured tyre triggered the accident which killed former Ferrari Formula 1 star Michele Alboreto, and not a mechanical failure on his Audi sportscar

Slow puncture caused Alboreto accident

Alboreto died when the Audi R8 he was testing at the Lausitzring in preparation for the company's defense of its Le Mans 24 Hours title left the road at high-speed, overturned and hit a trackside barrier, killing him instantly. The car was immediately impounded by the local public prosecutor for an investigation into the cause of the accident.

Experts from DEKRA, the independent organisation responsible for road vehicle safety in Germany, were appointed to investigate the crash and released their preliminary findings today (Monday).

"All investigations carried out so far show that a sharp object went into the left rear tyre, which caused a gradual loss of pressure in the tyre," said a DEKRA expert.

The accident happened on the East German facility's test track, which consists of two long straights connected by two banked corners. The Audi, which was carrying out aerodynamic testing in preparation for Le Mans' Mulsanne straight, was approaching the braking area for the track's South Curve when it left the track.

Audi has confirmed that, with a mechanical failure ruled out, it will send its cars to this weekend's Le Mans test weekend. All cars attempting to qualify for June's race must run at the test weekend.

"Knowing the results of the investigation - which of course does not bring Michele back - Audi has decided in accordance with its drivers to take part in the pre-practice at Le Mans," said Audi Sport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "I am sure this would also be in the mind of Michele, whose work helped us make the Audi R8 such a successful sportscar."

Privateer Audi teams Champion and Johansson are also scheduled to take part in the test weekend.

Alboreto, 44, was runner-up in the 1985 F1 World Championship with Ferrari. The Italian won a total of five Grands Prix during his career.

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