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Gilles Villeneuve 26 years today.


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#1 Mika Mika

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 13:05

On May 8, 1982, after failing to beat Pironi's time on his first qualifying lap for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder by only 0.1s, Villeneuve decided to try one final time to take pole position. Using a set of scrubbed qualifying tyres, by now past their best, Villeneuve was well into his flying lap when he came up behind Jochen Mass's March 821, who was driving sedately towards the pits having completed his own qualifying attempt. Mass began to cede the racing line to Villeneuve, moving to the right, but Gilles had already committed to passing the March on that side, possibly due to steering problems which had afflicted his car during practice. The front left wheel of Villeneuve's car came into contact with the right rear wheel of Mass' car, launching the Ferrari into the air. The car partially flipped, before nose-diving into the soft earthen embankment just outside the armco and then somersaulting along the side of the track. The violence of the accident reduced the car to its cockpit, and ripped Villeneuve's seat from the back of the monocoque. Villeneuve, without his helmet, was thrown across the track and into the catch fencing just outside the corner.

Derek Warwick, the first driver to pass the destroyed Ferrari, pulled up a short way along the track and hurried back to assist Villeneuve. Aided by fellow driver John Watson, the pair extricated Villeneuve's body from the fencing and laid him on the ground. By the time the medical team arrived Villeneuve was not breathing. Villeneuve was resuscitated at the scene, but his injuries were fatal. He died in a local hospital that evening, his fatal injuries likely caused by the force of his car landing for the first time after the initial impact. If his death was not greeted with great shock and surprise (everyone knew his style), that was more than offset by the profound sadness it produced. Even René Arnoux, his adversary in the Dijon epic, confessed that he cried after discovering that Gilles had died.

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#2 Jerome

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 15:46

Originally posted by Mika Mika
On He died in a local hospital that evening, his fatal injuries likely caused by the force of his car landing for the first time after the initial impact. If his death was not greeted with great shock and surprise (everyone knew his style), that was more than offset by the profound sadness it produced. Even René Arnoux, his adversary in the Dijon epic, confessed that he cried after discovering that Gilles had died.


I remember this so well. I also cried that night.

I fear, though, that Villeneuve was not killed by the first impact. If I remember correctly, the cause of death was a damaged brainstem. That injury corresponds with the landing of Villeneuve in the fencing (head first).

#3 gio66

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 16:54

Salut Gilles...

#4 John B

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 17:02

I remember the day, even being a kid back then...tragic month as a few days later Gordon Smiley died in another very violent crash during Indy qualifying.

That was the first time I read about Watson being involved with the extrication and rescue - he wound up winning the much-overshadowed race the following day.

#5 steveninthematrix

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 17:52

if you're going to go, go with your 'boots' on...


10 mins of the battle of arnoux and villeneuve.... last 5 laps

#6 JacnGille

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 21:25

:( :cry:

#7 Antonio

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 22:43

Requiescat in oace

#8 Josta

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 23:10

RIP Gilles.

However, this should be in Nostalgia.

#9 as65p

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 23:28

He was truly unique, one of a kind. Since I'm actively watching (which happens to be since 1977) I've not seen any driver remotely resembling his approach to racing, totally unflustered by politics, political correctness and the like. Right to the end he appeared like an ordinary child who was given the toy of his dreams - only that he had that uncanny natural talent to actually work miracles with that toy.

Like I said, unique, incomparable to any other driver. Thats mostly what I will always remember him for.