Last year, E3 Spark Plugs brought you the story of French athlete-turned-stunt driver Guerlain Chicherit’s history-making unassisted back flip in a modified Mini Countryman, performed flawlessly in the Tignes mountains region of France. The four-time free skiing world champion gunned it up a static ramp and launched into a full 360-degree roll before landing on a bank of snow and eliciting global applause.
Recently, Chicherit was at it again, this time aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the longest ramp car jump ever. While most stunt driving fans sincerely want to see such attempts end in crowd-thrilling success, there’s always a certain contingent that secretly (or not so secretly) roots for a spectacular fail. Well, it was the latter that went home happy this time.
Chicherit’s goal was to beat fellow rally and stunt driver and Top Gear TV host Tanner Foust’s record by hitting a 360-foot jump at a ski resort in the French Alps. As a member of Team Hot Wheels, Faust set had previously broken the world record with a 332-foot jump at the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Chicherit was psyched with the thought of breaking that record and might well have accomplished just that had he not lost control of his Mini just before landing. He hit a peak speed of just under 100 miles per hour, went airborne, cleared the ramp and went into chaotic multiple roll that shook him around the car’s cabin like a rag doll.
At least one person had what, in hindsight, might have been a premonition about the day’s events.
“When I woke up the morning of jump day, I called my wife and told her that I had a bad feeling,” said James Kirkam, 4 Wheel Motor Sports Creative Team Leader.
Fortunately for Chicherit and his family, friends and fans, he walked away from the horrific cartwheel with minor injuries, though he headed straight for the nearest hospital, where he underwent an MRI and spend the night under observation. Yet, like a true extreme sports rockstar, he reportedly plans a second attempt. And fortunately for that contingent of crash-happy fans, the entire cringe-worthy episode was caught from every angle with a fleet of GoPro cameras.
GoPro described the resulting vide as “a record of a man confronting his own mortality, and ultimately experiencing a moment of what we can only describe as grace.”
We here at E3 Spark Plugs think that’s an apt description. Take a look for yourself but seriously – don’t be tempted to try this at home, folks.