By on June 11, 2017

Tweet of Hammond Crash, Image: DriveTribe

The Grand Tour’s Richard Hammond has survived God’s most-recent attempt to murder him with a motor vehicle. If you recall, the former Top Gear presenter suffered serious head injuries in 2006 when the jet-propelled dragster he was driving wrecked at 288mph. Earlier this year, Hammond also “fell off” a motorcycle in Mozambique traveling at high speeds, knocking himself unconscious.

In his latest accident, Hammond was piloting an electric supercar as it tumbled off the road — busting into flames seconds after he crawled from the wreckage. “It was the biggest crash I’ve ever seen and the most frightening ,” Jeremy Clarkson tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “But incredibly, and thankfully, Richard seems to be mostly OK.”

According to Hammond’s own DriveTribe, he had completed the Hemburg Hill Climb in Switzerland in a Rimac Concept One during filming for The Grand Tour Season 2 and lost control of the vehicle after the event. Richard was conscious and talking following the accident, having climbed out himself moments before the vehicle caught fire. He was then flown to a hospital in St Gallen to be examined, revealing a fracture to his knee.

In a Sunday video, Hammond thanked the hospital staff, highlighting their future work to repair his savaged kneecap. He then thanked James May, who appeared to be insulting him behind from the camera.

A clip of the events leading up to the crash — and its aftermath — also surfaced.

 

[Image: DriveTribe]

 

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46 Comments on “Richard Hammond Apparently Unable to be Killed by Automobiles...”


  • avatar
    brn

    Luck runs out, because it’s not a real thing.

    Richard needs to back off or it will kill him.

  • avatar
    mason

    When you wreck BEFORE the turn I’d say your driving well beyond your means.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed, he didn’t seem to be aiming at the apex of the left turn at all which indicates he lost control well before the left turn.

      • 0 avatar

        The tires start screeching while he’s still on the straight. My guess is that if it wasn’t driver error then it’s possible there was something going on in the braking system, perhaps the ABS failed and the brakes locked, or with the regeneration system (it’s an EV).

        To the engineers out there, wouldn’t a sudden activation of the regeneration system have the same effect as a sudden application of the brakes? That could destabilize the vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          smokingclutch

          Not only is it the same as a sudden application of the brakes, it’s actually worse (if the car is RWD) because it’s heavily braking only the rear wheels, which immediately have reduce traction due to weight transfer forward under braking.

          You can also have this happen in a gas-powered RWD vehicle. If you downshift and then let the clutch out suddenly without heel-and-toeing, the sudden engine braking can cause the rear wheels to break traction.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            “If you downshift and then let the clutch out suddenly without heel-and-toeing, the sudden engine braking can cause the rear wheels to break traction.”

            Yes, and a friend did this to great comedic effect in the (very light) rain while we were driving around in a beater 1990s Toyota 2wd pickup (guessing 1994 or older since it wasn’t a taco).

            Then our mutual friend got the stupid idea to try it in his 1999 Kia Sephia. Didn’t work so well.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @smokingclutch: The car is IWD, independent wheel drive. A motor at each of its 4 wheels. You can totally adjust the dynamics of the car. Something certainly could have gone wrong. Still, with 1124 hp and 1180 ft-lbs of torque on tap, it’s easy to get in trouble.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          It looked like he was coming into what looked like a 90-degree turn way too fast with a 2-ton car and just stood on the brakes. I’ve never known regen to cause the tires to squeal. I use it as a hill-descender in snowy conditions and it works great. It’s softer than engine braking.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Watching the video, he screwed up the right curve and got out of shape.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Actors should not do their own stunts, aside from McQueen, Rockford and a few others. But he knew he F-up while still exiting the right-hander. But there was no point in trying to negotiate the left-hander. He should’ve gone straight off the road with almost no chance of rolling.

          I put myself in the exact same situation, 90 mph approaching a tight left. While far from a pro, I knew my best chances were to lock up the brakes and go straight off the river bank. I went off-road and got hung up on some rocks, right before going into the drink. Only damaged a rocker and 3 tie-rods.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Good to see he’s okay though.

  • avatar

    I wonder what the cause of the fire was, perhaps it was battery related. Rimac supplies Koenigsegg with cells for the Regera. Christian Koenisgsegg described those cells to me as similar to those used in F1’s KERS systems, capable of very rapid charging and discharging.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Had to be battery related. The cells were probably physically damaged on impact. FWIW, one of the local battery tech labs is working on that issue and actually took their prototypes to a gun range and fired shots into it. Hopefully, in the future, the fire problem won’t be an issue.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Well, that’s the good thing about EV fires – they don’t explode like gasoline.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    He should have been banned from driving after the first head injury. There’s a protocol test for concussive head injuries in sports, and driving a race car is a motor sport. I’m shocked there’s no comprehensive system for checking drivers.

    The fact he’s still breathing does NOT mean he’s “okay”. Even after a recovery from a head injury/concussion, doctors make it clear that the next hit could have disastrous results. That’s why Chargers quarterback Stan Humphries retired after a second concussion.

  • avatar
    Ko1

    Another reminder that eventually, the former Top Gear guys are going to have to honor their “agreement”.

    “And in other news, Richard Hammond died yesterday in a horrible fiery car accident. He will be missed. Moving on, the Dacia Sandero is finally coming to Britain!”

  • avatar
    NeilM

    It’s worth watching in slo-mo. He was running wide at the exit of the right hander, and seems to realize that he was carrying too much speed to get back to the right in time to set up for the sharper left hander. (He might also have realized that if he instead tried to take the entry to the second turn tight then he’d fly straight off a bit further on than he did and hit a building.) Either way he brakes hard — look at the tire tracks on the road — and destabilizes the car which weaves back to the right, and then either tries to turn in or just loses it entirely, corrects to no avail and off he goes sideways.

    TL;DR — Driver error. Took the first turn too fast and couldn’t get it whoa’d down in time for the next one, so off he goes.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Been dead for years, James May is a very skilled sock puppet manipulator and ventriloquist.

  • avatar

    The number of medical and driving professionals we have in the B&B is pretty amazing!

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    That corner sequence was so badly overcooked that I wonder if he just didn’t know the course? It’s not a racetrack situation with nice sightlines and wide runoffs. It’s more like rally driving than anything else. There’s a really good reason that rally cars have a driver and a navigator. Someone shouting “HARD LEFT! BRAKE! BRAKE!!!!” in his ear might have prevented this very ugly crash.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      If he didn’t acclimate himself with the track before running those speeds then shame on him. Regardless of the cause, no doubt it was an “accident”- who would intentionally overshoot a corner at break neck speeds….but there needs to be some level of responsibility here and it can only fall on one individual.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Yes, that’s sort of my point. I was just struck by how far from making it he really was. It’s not like it got loose mid-corner. It wasn’t even close.

        New car, new course, caution is a necessity.

        Edit with a bit of additional info:
        From what I can tell, the crash took place just after the end of the timed course. The left-hand turn is far from a 90 degree turn, more like 40 degrees at the most, but the town of Hemberg is literally right around that corner. I found a map of the timed route (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rBnUeo7x3YQfk3qW9Xi1q25SkWg&hl=en_US&usp=sharing), in which the crash area is called the “Auslaufzone”. I think this means the run-out area, in which you are supposed to be slowing down.

        I also estimated the locations of the point where the car left the road, and the point where it ended up.
        (https://goo.gl/maps/nkkNhSqvpr82) It looks like the quick flick to the left may have at least kept the car from crashing right through the little yellow building seen at 0:15 in the video. (Though I don’t know if Hammond could have seen that from the elevation he was at.)

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Yeah, not a course or a track, just some road in Switzerland. But I’d have expected them to take a few runs at modest speed before going for it in earnest. Apparently not…

  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    Jeremy Clarkson and James May described the crash as “like a bomb going off”. How can a car with not a drop of gasoline onboard catch fire in the first place? No one seems to see the elephant in the room: the battery was damaged and shorted and caused an impermeable fire, destroying everything burnable in the car, including Mr. Hammond if the hadn’t been able to get out. THAT’S what Jeremy Clarkson was aiming at. This gives me another excellent reason for not owning an EV. Besides, gasoline car only explode in American action films, never elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You don’t watch too many races, do you Jan? Cars burn when they’re crashed hard enough, no matter what kind they are. But worse, gasoline cars burn very frequently even without the help of a flying leap off a cliff. It usually takes something pretty extreme to cause a battery to burn, something like dead short across enough cells to cause an overheating condition. People overheat gasoline cars all the time. The BEV is still safer than gasoline .

      • 0 avatar
        Jan Andersson

        Now, YOU have to explain where all that heat came from to make rubber, paint, seat foam, textiles, GRP, CRP, vinyl, aluminum or magnesium (but no oil or gasoline) catch fire virtually explosively in a car sliding down a mountain meadow. If you need a hint, try to (carefully) short-circuit your car battery. Then, repeat with 100 parallel car batteries and run for your life. In my 50+ years on the road in 25 cars, I have yet to see a burning gasoline car. I don’t even believe that a crashing airplane would catch fire if the fuel tanks were empty.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Jan: Did you even read my statement? You basically told me exactly what I told you, that it had to be an extreme event for the BEV to catch fire. Under normal conditions, a BEV will NOT short its batteries enough to cause an “explosive” fire. Just as an example, none of the Tesla battery fires was ever “explosive” in nature, giving the occupants plenty of time to pull off the road and exit…sometimes even before the fire became visible.

          All this fire demonstrates is that the fire delayed at least long enough for Hammond to get out of the car on its own and that the battery pack of the vehicle driven may not have had the same battery configuration as Tesla’s, meaning a potentially higher risk of shorting under rollover conditions (as compared to multiple Teslas having suffered major accidents with no fire, albeit others where the battery pack was compromised and bursting into flames.)

          And yes, a plane crashing, even with empty tanks, COULD catch fire because the tanks would still be filled with fumes, which is the explosive part of the fuel. It just wouldn’t burn for as long or be as severe, though it might be a more powerful blast because it would be all vapor and little liquid.

        • 0 avatar

          @Jan

          If you’ve never seen a burning gasoline car in 50+ years you can’t have travelled that far or paid good enough attention or both.

          Just yesterday I was travelling south on I-24 and saw the burnt out shell of a gasoline car on the hard shoulder.

          As for your rather odd aeroplane scenario. Be assured the plane would crash *because* its fuel tanks were empty. As for actual aircraft disasters due to exploding fuel tanks…….

          – The first was in 1990 when a Boeing 737-300 operated by Philippine Airlines exploded on the ground while taxiing [1] – Then in 1996, was the tragic incident when a Boeing 747-131 operated by Trans World Airlines exploded in midair some 12 mins after take off from JFK [2] – The next one was in 2001, when a Boeing 737-400 of Thai Airways exploded, half an hour before scheduled take off. [3] – And the last one I’m aware of happened in 2006, when the left wing fuel tank of a Boeing 727 of Transmile Air Service exploded in Bangalore while being towed on ground.

          Reference https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/fuel-tank-explosions-in-aircrafts.149631/

          Any vehicle that has a large store of potential energy, be that gasoline or a BEV it will burn if the stored energy is released quickly enough as a result of a catastrophic event.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @jan

            In my area a couple of days ago, a police Explorer hit a pickup, then turned on its side and caught fire.

            And of course, there’s this:
            http://www.motortrend.com/news/ford-recalls-230k-vehicles-for-fire-risk/

            Doesn’t even take a violent accident to set off some vehicles.

  • avatar
    cdrmike

    “Hammond was piloting an electric supercar as it tumbled off the road…”
    Translation: Idiot was driving like a hoon, when his brain wrote a check that his ass couldn’t cash. Luckily, he didn’t kill anyone this time (again). Maybe he needs to pull his head out of his fifth point of contact before he does.

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