Top Stories from the Sports pages of the International Herald Tribune,
Monday, May 5, 1997

Sebastian Enjolras, 21, Killed on Track to Formula One

By Brad Spurgeon International Herald Tribune
I only met him a few times, but each time I was impressed by a humble young man who was fully aware of where he wanted to go, and how he was going to get there.

Sebastian Enjolras, 21, was climbing the ladder of automobile racing with apparently easy success. His goal was Formula One. But unlike more and more drivers who are jumping practically from go-karts into Formula One cars, he did not want to skip any stages in his development as a driver.

His climb was cut short Saturday when he was killed at pre-qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

He started karting as a boy. At 17, after three years in the French team, he drove the fastest lap of the weekend in an indoor karting championship at Bercy in Paris, faster than all the Formula One drivers, including Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

In 1994 he gained his first victory in a single-seat open-wheel championship, Formule Campus, and last year, at the next level, he won the French Formule Renault championship with 11 victories and 12 pole positions in 16 races.

''I want to learn as much as possible to arrive in Formula One at a high level of experience,'' he said. ''There are some who have gone up too quickly and have stagnated at a high level. They've stalled."

This year he had a good start to his first season in the French Formula Three championship, generally considered two stages down from Formula One.

On Saturday, the body work of his car, part of the Rachel Welter team, came loose and the car became airborne and flew over the safety barrier of the track.

On the same Saturday three years ago Roland Ratzenberger died during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix at Imola. Ratzenberger's best time would have been good enough for last place on the grid. The next day Ayrton Senna, who had qualified first, died during the race.

First place, last place, a place not yet made, motor sport remains deadly. While a high-profile murder trial is going on in Italy against Senna's team, who are being charged for his death, another driver has died in a similar manner, practicing the same sport. He will never make it into the history books as anything more than a small statistic.

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