In 2017, during a Hill Climb that was being filmed for Season 2 of The Grand Tour, Richard Hammond failed to stop for a corner at the very top of the track in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The corner came after the finish line, which led viewers to wonder whether it was poor driving on Hammond’s part, or in fact an issue with the car causing its demise. Richard sustained a fractured knee from the accident, and the car was destroyed.
Now, Mate Rimac has opened up to what happened behind the scenes.
He explained on the Late Brake Show, that the company was in a difficult financial position mainly due to a fraud investor:
“The Richard Hammond crash was really tough for us,” Mate explained.
“We were in the worst situation in our company because we had another fraud investor, and that’s my fault?”
He continued: “It’s not like the fault of these people, it’s my fault because I trusted them.
“I thought the company is going to die if in three months we don’t get money, and we couldn’t get another investor because of this guy for like 12 months, and was like barely, barely, barely surviving from month to month.”
He admitted to thinking that his employees were going to “run away” because of him being open with them about the financial position of the company.
But during this time, The Grand Tour reached out to the company, asking for them to be able to film with the famous Rimac Concept One. But while they were facing tough times, this was the last thing they wanted.
“If something goes wrong in this situation, it will kill us,” he said, before joking, “what’s the worst that can happen?”
The team had the car for five days, while Rimac was watching live telemetry from their HQ in Croatia. “It blew them away,” Mate said, before coming to the final day of the test: the hill climb.
He explains that there was no signal at the hill climb location, so the live telemetry wouldn’t show anything until a large amount of data was dumped sporadically when the car finally gained a connection. They were feeling great about the test, especially as Rimac’s team in Switzerland reported that they’d finished and everything was okay, but bad news quickly followed.
“One hour later [my team] calls me, ‘the car crashed, it burns, he’s alive'”. You can tell just thinking about the accident causes stress, especially when he reveals that it was in fact a customer car that was being used for the episode.
“On that last corner, he went first 144kph, then he did 150-154, then 157, 160, and the last time he went through the corner where he went off was 212.”
Mate finally reveals the reason behind the accident.
“He was trying to see his time on the clock, and with a thousand horsepower EV hyper, when you try to see the time after the finish line and you stay on the throttle for too long, and then you look at the road and you realise, it’s too late.”
Fortunately, Mate admitted that the resulting coverage from this accident was overall one of the best things to happen to Rimac, despite it being “so close to killing the company”.
Watch the full interview below: