Grosjean shares ‘something special’ with Vendee survivor Escoffier

PARIS: Formula One racing driver Romain Grosjean (pix) said he shared “something special” with Vendee Globe skipper Kevin Escoffier whose round-the-world race ended in near-disaster earlier this month.

Escoffier’s boat PRB was “smashed up, the bow folded 90 degrees” while sailing through the Roaring 40s. He was forced to take refuge in a life raft and was later picked up by fellow competitor Jean Le Cam.

Grosjean also had a death-defying moment when he walked away from a fireball crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix in November.

“I share something special with Kevin Escoffier in that we have both recently survived very difficult moments,” Grosjean told race organisers on Saturday.

“I think everyone was amazed to see me come out of the flames of my burning car after 28 seconds. And so was everyone happy to hear that Jean Le Cam was able to rescue Kevin Escoffier in what was terrible conditions and that he is safe and sound.”

Grosjean also sent a message of support to Louis Burton on Saturday as he headed to Macquarie Island to make running repairs on his boat Bureau Vallee 2.

“Each morning I get up and check where he is and follow his race really closely and have been following all the issues he has had to deal with,” said Grosjean in a video link with his close friend Burton.

The 35-year-old arrived in Base Bay on Macquarie Island off the coast of Tasmania early Sunday where he will repair his rigging.

Burton’s autopilot now appears to be working after malfunctioning for more than 24 hours, meanding he had to steer all the time with no rest.

“If I can send you, Louis, a bit of my autopilot help it is going to you,” said Grosjean who is described as the ‘godfather’ of Burton’s boat which, in its former guise as Banque Populaire VIII, carried Armel Le Cléac’h to victory four years ago.

“I don’t like electronics, and do not know how to manage that. I know you will repair it though, and I hope you will find the electronics solutions you need and that you can climb back up the fleet like you did at the start of the race.”

Burton had dropped to tenth in the race, 715 nautical miles behind pacemaker Yannick Bestaven who continues to extend his lead as his boat Maitre Coq IV pushes into the South Pacific. By 1100GMT Sunday he was 129 nautical miles ahead Charlie Dalin who is second in Apivia.

“We are not going fast, are we?” said Dalin. “I would prefer it to be a little more ‘sporty’ and a bit less comfortable.”

Thomas Ruyant is third in LinkedOut but has slipped back to 171nm behind Bestaven. – AFP

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