Barely 2 months after a monster crash ended British teenager Billy Monger’s Formula 4 career, Monger was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside fellow amputee Frederic Sausset. Sausset has launched a training program for the physically challenged. The main objective of the academy “Un Volant Pour Tous” is to train disabled drivers for the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first car that was enrolled into the academy will participate in the 2020 edition of the famous endurance race.
The academy has received official support for the International Automobile Federation, the West Automobile Club and the French Federation of Sports Cars. “I’ve been working on this project relentlessly since April last year,” said Sausset “I really needed to undertake another significant challenge after racing in La Sarthe in 2016. I also wanted to change the general perception of disabled people. I believe that taking the checkered flag at Le Mans has given me the legitimacy to do so.”
The way the academy functions is that every year they will groom 15 candidates from all over the world and then select 2-3 drivers to graduate from the academy. after that they will undergo a 3-year training program and in the 4th year, they will finally race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “My priority is to make sure that a first driver line-up reaches Le Mans in 2020. Once this is done, I will consider returning to Le Mans as a driver in 2021 or 2022.” said the paraplegic Frenchman.
Briton Monger said that he was recovering well from his injuries and was relishing the opportunity to join the academy. The 2 three-day test sessions for the 15 chosen candidates will be held in the month of November at the Bugatti track in France. “Of course, we need to make sure that all these candidates are individually qualified to undertake such a program. We also need to make sure that their disabilities are complementary and compatible with our cars,” said Sausset. On the subject of cars, they will be specially modified in the month of December and January to suit the pilot’s respective disabilities.