The biggest heartbreaks in motorsport

These motorsport moments will tug at your heartstrings.

The biggest heartbreaks in Motorsport

These motorsport moments will tug at your heartstrings.

MOTORSPORT is a cruel and unforgiving mistress. Sometimes it provides rousing stories of victory: underdogs battling against adversity to win against all odds; legends created and history being made before our very eyes. But the opposite end of the spectrum can also tug at your heartstrings quite firmly. The sport is littered with devastating stories of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. Beginning with last weekend’s crushing final-lap pain for Toyota at the 24 hours of Le Mans, here’s our list of the most agonising heartbreaks in motorsport.

2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – Toyota falters within sight of the finish.

THERE are few stories as cruel as this. Having finished second at the 24 Hour epic on no less than four different occasions, Toyota commanded this year’s race and was set to claim its very first victory. But then, after 23 hours and 57 minutes and with a lead of over a minute and a half, the Toyota TS050 Hybrid – piloted by the trio of Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi – ground to an agonising halt. Words cannot do justice how that must have felt. Just watch the video and witness the raw emotion of the Toyota garage as it realises what just happened.

2008 Formula 1 World Championship – Felipe Massa’s 30 second crown

The 2008 Formula 1 championship was witness to one of the most dramatic and intriguing stories of heartbreak around. Picture this; Felipe Massa heads to his home Grand Prix in Brazil, fighting with Lewis Hamilton for the World Championship. Massa salutes the chequered flag, which at the time was enough to give him the title in front of a home crowd at the final race of the year. But then, while the Ferrari garage erupts into celebration, Lewis Hamilton gains another position, which gives him enough points to claim the championship crown. The looks of confusion and despair at Ferrari are harrowing, while Massa’s defiant roar on the podium in front of his fellow countrymen will send chills down your spine.

1998 World Rally Championship - Carlos Sainz stops 500-meters from winning the title

Like the Hamilton and Massa battle, this tale of heatbreak fell in the final metres of a season, with a world championship hanging in the balance. Tommi Makinen and Carlos Sainz fought a rigorous to-and-fro battle for the 1998 World Rally Championship title, with it all coming down to the final round in Great Britain. Only two points separated them heading into the final round, with no other contenders, and Makinen coming off the back of a hat-trick of victories. But then on just Stage 4 of the rally, Makinen is taken out, theoretically leaving Sainz to cruise to victory (the Spaniard only had to finish fourth and the championship would be his). The despair was so immense for Makinen he left the rally, unable to bear watching in person. However, only 500-meters from the end of the final stage, Sainz’s engine detonated. Dramatic scenes ensued, and Makinen was crowned champion while sitting in a hotel lobby.

2011 Indy 500 – Rookie J.R.R Hilderbrand crashes at the last corner

Winning the Indy 500 is an achievement some drivers strive for over their entire careers and never achieve. In 2011 JR Hildebrand was staring down the barrel of winning the biggest single-day sporting event in the world in his rookie year – the 100th anniversary of the first running, no less! But on the last corner it all came unravelled, and he clouted the wall trying to overtake traffic. He crossed the line in second, forced to sit in his broken car as Dan Wheldon shot past for victory.

2014 Bathurst 1000 – Jamie Whincup runs out of fuel

The 2014 Bathurst 1000 was truly one of the greatest chapters of the Great Race. The race to the flag was between Jamie Whincup and Chaz Mostert, who both started at the rear of the grid. Whincup had fought his way to the lead of the race, served a drive through penalty, and was leading once more at race end. Meanwhile, Mostert was hunting him down in a car that had been into the fence throughout the day. They came to heads on the final lap and then, as they turned onto Conrod, Whincup’s car ran out of fuel. It was an epic finish for the longest Bathurst 1000 in history.

2007 Bathurst 1000 – Mark Winterbottom nearly rolls while leading

Speaking of epic moments, while the other heartbreaks on this list have been the results of miscalculations, mechanical failures, or sheer bad luck, this is one which surely stings double as it comes courtesy of a small mistake. Mark Winterbottom was in line to claim his first Bathurst 1000 in 2007 as rain began to fall on the track. He was leading the race in the treacherous conditions, and had everything under control, but he was caught out, and went for a wild ride through one of the scariest corners in Australian motorsport – The Chase. Winterbottom avoided disaster and kept the car straight after catching serious air time, but his first serious chance at Bathurst victory was thrown out the window.


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