How Fabio Scherer fought pain with pleasure to win at Le Mans
Photo: WEC

How Fabio Scherer fought pain with pleasure to win at Le Mans

Sports has some great fighting stories of how its stars battled through the pain barrier to reach their own successful promised land.

Whether it was Bert Trautman helping Manchester City to win the 195* FA Cup Final despite braking a bone in his neck, Derek Redmond's agonizing attempt to finish the 1992 Barcelona Olympics 400m semi-final despite tearing his hamstring, or Niki Lauda's astonishing fourth place at the 1976 Italian Grand Prix just six weeks after being given the last-rites, sport has the power to elevate achievements over suffering.

In the context of the above examples, Scherer's was not quite as dramatic. However, using context completing a gruelling 24 hour event with such an injury does take the breath away for fortitude and commitment.

The fact he and teammates Jakub Śmiechowski and Albert Costa went on to score a surprise but thoroughly well-deserved victory, vanquishing a field packed with quality entries makes the story even more incredible.

The Polish team reported on Tuesday that the Swiss ace had 'some ligament damage and an incomplete fracture to his mid-left foot'.

'He also has some bread and is on crutches at the moment. But Fabio being Fabio, he will certainly be fighting fit and pumped up for the next one at Monza,' continued the statement.

Scherer's and indeed the teams' subsequent efforts will now surely go down in Le Mans and WEC folklore, joining the likes of Johnny Herbert's herculean battle against his leg injuries and sickness to win in 1991 with Mazda.

Inter Europol Competition came through the ultra-competitive LMP2 pack to score a phenomenal victory, their first in WEC, to thrust Costa, Scherer and Śmiechowski in to title contention as they sit now just four points off leaders Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Rui Andrade from the No.41 Team WRT squad.

But it took Scherer in particular to dig deep.

“When I started the race after to 50 minutes I thought my race was over because it's hurting a lot,” he said after the race.

“Somehow with a lot of ice and a lot of treatment. I was able to race and after that I was in the flow. Now I started to do my foot more and more, but it doesn't matter because I don't care now even if don't walk out of here!”

Scherer was forced to adapt his driving. The Swiss had never previously braked with the right foot and initially believed it was “impossible” to continue.

Instead, he learned to brake “with the whole leg instead of with the foot” after being struck by the Nicky Catsburg's GTE Am class-winning Corvette in the pitlane.

That though was not the only issue that the Inter Europol Competition team had to deal with. In the last hour, to compound the unfolding drama of Scherer's issue and Louis Deletraz homing in on the yellow and green Oreca-Gibson, the team lost radio coverage with the cockpit.

“For sure it didn't help,” said Scherer of the lack of communications. “But at the end I just said, 'I just need to drive flat out', there was nothing else to do.

“We spoke about it in the box before I got in, and we weren't sure we could change drivers because the door didn't open properly, but at Le Mans sometimes you need some luck!”

At Le Mans luck is crucial, pain is nothing and winning is everything!