This morning, we reported on a crash at France's Pays des Maures that killed two people and injured 15. Information from the scene implicated the driver, but Jalopnik reader Thomas Belhacene, who's brother was one of the first responders, challenges those claims.
Straight from Thomas's mouth:
This intersection is one of the most famous on the rally, that is why too many people stand there. My brother was one of the first firefighters to respond to the accident.
As stated in many reports [including ours — Ed.], all the blame goes to the driver for making a wrong turn. This is not the case.
The driver and his co-pilot have been racing for over 20 years and this is not their first time doing this race. They know the course and stage by heart.
This was not an error on the driver's behalf, but a mechanical issue. Watch this video, you do not hear squeaking brakes. This is the sort of turn where you brake at the last second going about 80 MPH. When he realized his brakes weren't working, he turned on his hazard lights and tried everything possible, including pulling the emergency brake.
Know the road by heart, he knew there was an escape road built into this difficult corner if he continued straight through the intersection. He continued straight only to realize too late that the organization and the police did not do their job of keeping people off the escape road. This is why the accident happened.
At 00:53 in this video you can see the intersection in question and see the ‘No Spectators' sign and barrier lying on the floor. That's where people were standing. It's outrageous that people could stand on an escape road for cars moving 80-90 MPH.
The driver is in horrible mental shape. He cannot believe people were allowed to stand there.