Motor racing: Le Mans drive for quadruple amputee

French businessman Frederic Sausset (right) will become the first quadruple amputee to drive in the storied but gruelling Le Mans 24-hour race.
French businessman Frederic Sausset (right) will become the first quadruple amputee to drive in the storied but gruelling Le Mans 24-hour race.PHOTO: FRED SAUSSET (SRT41)/TWITTER

PARIS • French businessman Frederic Sausset will become the first quadruple amputee to drive in the storied but gruelling Le Mans 24-hour race, claiming he needs to "give new meaning to my life".

The 48-year-old had his arms and legs amputated in July 2012 after contracting a rare but potentially fatal bacterial disease on vacation.

"There are only 40 cases per year worldwide - 85 per cent are fatal," said Sausset, as he launched his bid for June's famous endurance race.

"It was a toxin and had a rate of necrosis (the death of body tissue) of 12cm per hour."

Four months after his surgery, his dream of taking part at Le Mans was born.

"I had to give my life new meaning. What is more natural than to find a challenge that matched my passion," he explained.

"That passion is motor sport and has been ever since I was a kid, even if I never had the chance to drive or take part in competitions."

At Le Mans, he will drive a specially modified car, a Morgan-Nissan LMP2. He will steer the car using a joystick attached to the remainder of his right arm.

His ambition is to finish the marathon race, a staggering target for a man who drove a race car for the first time only last February.

He will share driving duties at Le Mans with mentor Christophe Tinseau, an 11-race veteran, and a third driver who is still to be named.

"When I see how far we have come, it's extraordinary," said Sausset.

He has already tested his steering system, which he says he first pictured when he came out of hospital, in lower-tier races as well as on the Circuit Bugatti without problems.

"I am here to announce my participation as someone who is a little different but who has succeeded at doing something," he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 07, 2016, with the headline 'Le Mans drive for quadruple amputee'. Print Edition | Subscribe