- September 28, 1963
- Not Active
The French racing driver Erik Comas recorded 59 starts in the Formula One Grand Prix race between 1991 and 1994, driving for two French teams (Ligier and Larrousse), but he achieved his biggest success in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Japan, winning two GT championship titles and becoming the most successful driver in the series history.
Comas' last notable result before his retirement was the second place overall at 2005 24 hours of Le Mans. Earlier in a career, between 1986 and 1988, Comas won three championship titles in three different French competitions – Formula Renault, Touring Cars Championship and Formula 3. He was Formula 3000 champion in 1990.
Championship winner in only second year of racing
Erik Comas was born on September 29, 1963, in Romans-sur-Isere in the southeastern France. His first racing competition was the 1985 French Formula Renault. He was driving Martini MK44 for the Ecurie Elf team. With one victory in twelve races, Comas finished fourth in the points. In 1986, he was a dominating driver and he won eight races, clinching the title with a big advantage over Jean-Marc Gounon, who was his biggest rival.
In 1987, Erik entered two competitions, driving the Ralt RT31 (Alfa Romeo) for the Ecurie Elf in the French Formula 3 and driving Renault 5 Maxi Turbo for the Sonica team at the French Touring Car Championship. In F3 races, he scored three podiums and finished sixth. In the touring car competition, he won his second title in a career.
Formula 3 French champion in 1988
In 1988, Comas continued to drive in the French Formula 3 but after a while, he switched to Oreca team. His Dallara 388 (Alfa Romeo) was victorious in four out of twelve races and Erik won his third championship title in three years. At non-championship F3 Monaco Grand Prix, he finished second.
For the 1989 season, Comas joined DAMS team to compete in the International Formula 3000 championship. After two wins in nine races, Comas was tied in the points with Jean Alesi, who already made his debut in the Formula One with Tyrrell. Alesi was a champion because he had more wins.
Formula 3000 champion in 1990
In 1990 Formula 3000 season, Comas won four races (Donington Park, Jerez, Monza and Bugatti Circuit) and took the championship title ahead of Erik van de Poele and Eddie Irvine. Comas was driving the #26 Lola T90/50 (Mugen). As the newly crowned F3000 champion, Comas joined Ligier Gitanes team for 1991 Formula One season.
In March 1991, Erik Comas debuted in the Lamborghini-powered #26 Ligier JS35 at the US Grand Prix at Phoenix, but he failed to qualify, being 6.7 seconds slower than the pole-sitter Ayrton Senna. In the next round, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Comas started the race from the 23rd place but retired after 50 laps due to engine failure.
No points in the debut Formula One season
In April, at Imola, Comas finally finished his first F1 race, taking the 10th place. By the end of the season, Comas recorded two more DNQs and four more DNFs. His best result was the 8th place at the Canadian Grand Prix. He didn't score any points so he wasn't classified in the final standings, same as his teammate Thierry Boutsen.
For the 1992 season, Ligier switched to Renault V10 engine and it became Erik's best F1 season in a career. He earned points in three races, finishing eleventh in the final classification with four points on his account. His first point-winning race was the Canadian Grand Prix in June, in which he finished in sixth place. In July, Comas was fifth at Magny-Cours and sixth at Hockenheimring. Comas recorded seven retirements and one DNQ result.
Ayrton Senna saved Erik's life at Spa in 1992
That DNQ was in fact, a crash at Spa-Francorchamps which marked his career. Comas crashed badly at the Blanchimont corner during the practice session on Friday. After the crash, Comas was unconscious in the car. Ayrton Senna, saved Erik's life because he prevented a fire by switching off the engine and holding Erik's head in a stable position until the doctors arrived. After that accident, Comas and Senna became close friends, which is why when Senna died two years later Erik decided to retire from F1.
For 1993 Formula One season, Comas joined Larrousse F1 team, to drive the #20 Lamborghini-powered Larrousse LH 93 alongside Philippe Alliot. After seven retirements in twelve races, Comas finally grabbed one point at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing sixth. At the end of the season, he was 20th in the standings.
Comas retired from F1 because of Senna's death
One more season with Larrousse followed in 1994. The team switched to Ford V8 engines and the results were slightly better, as Comas finished two races in the points. The first one was the Pacific Grand Prix at the Japanese TI Circuit Aida, where Comas was sixth.
The next race was the San Marino Grand Prix, the event remembered by the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. Comas was involved in an unusual accident after Senna's crash, as he was mistakenly released from the pits during the red flag period. He came in the full speed to the Tamburello corner and he managed to avoid rescue workers and vehicles. When he heard that Senna was killed, Comas retired from the race and refused to restart.
By the of the season, Comas reached one more point-winning finish at Hockenheimring. The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka in November was Comas' last F1 race, as he skipped the season-closing Australian Grand Prix. With two points, Comas was 23rd in the final standings of the 1994 Formula One Championship.
In 1995, Erik started his new career in Japan
Japan was a place where Erik Comas finished his Formula 1 career and a place where he started his new career, joining the Team Cerumo in the 1995 All-Japan GT Championship. He was driving the #38 Toyota Supra, finishing best in fifth place at Suzuka.
In June 1995, Comas debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans, driving the #36 Porsche 911 GT2 Evo for Larbre Competition, alongside Jean-Pierre Jarier and Jesus Pareja. They had an accident and retired from the race.
In 1996, Comas continued to drive Toyota Supra and he scored his first victory at Sendai Hi-Land Raceway, together with Hironori Takeuchi. Comas was third in the points at the end of the season. The same year, he also competed at the Japanese Touring Car Championship, driving the Toyota Corona Exiv and finishing 8th in the points.
Comas joined Nissan in 1997
In 1997, Comas joined Nismo and competed in the Japanese GT Championship with the #2 Nissan Skyline GT-R, sharing the car with Aguri Suzuki. They won the season-opening race at Suzuka. It remained Erik's only win and he finished 6th in the points.
Two Japanese championship titles for Comas
In 1998, Erik Comas and Masami Kageyama became the Japanese GT champions. They were sharing the #23 Nissan Skyline GT-R and have won two out of six races. In June 1998, Comas visited Le Mans again, driving the #31 Nissan R390 GT1 together with Jan Lammers and Andrea Montermini. The international trio finished sixth overall.
One more championship title followed in 1999. He was sharing the #1 car mostly with Satoshi Motoyama, but also with Anders Olofsson in one race, so Comas was the sole championship winner. He scored only one championship victory, at Mine Circuit in July. In November, Comas, Motoyama and Kageyama won the 1000 km of Fuji.
Driving for Nismo until 2002
At 1999 24 hours of Le Mans, Comas was the member of the Nissan Motorsports crew in the #22 Nissan R391, together with Satoshi Motoyama and Michael Krumm. An engine failure after 110 laps prevented them from finishing the race. During 1999, Comas also participated in three races of the American Le Mans Series, partnering Mimmo Schiattarella in the #0 Team Raffanelli Riley & Scott prototype and scoring one podium at Mosport.
In 2000, Nismo duo Kageyama/Comas had one victory, but it remained their only win and the pair finished second in the points. In 2001, the same crew was driving the #23 Nissan Skyline GT/R R34 and they shared the 7th place at the end of the year. In 2002, Kageyama and Comas missed wins and podiums and they finished 28 in the points.
Fifth place at 2002 Le Mans with Oreca
The highlight of the 2002 season was Erik's participation at Le Mans, this time with Playstation Team Oreca. His partners in the #15 Dallara LMP were Pedro Lamy and Olivier Beretta. They finished fifth overall, one place ahead of team's sister car #14.
For the 2003 season, Comas rejoined Team TOM's in the Japanese GT Championship. His partner in the #36 Toyota Supra was Takeshi Tsuchiya. They scored two podiums and finished ninth in the points. By the end of the 2003 season, Comas was the most successful driver in the history of the series, with the most career championship points ever scored by a single driver. This was eventually surpassed by Satoshi Motoyama. One more change followed in 2004 when Comas joined Hasemi Motorsport to drive the #3 Nissan Fairlady Z, alongside Toshihiro Kaneishi. With two podiums, they were seventh in the points.
Second place overall at 2005 Le Mans race
A year later, in June 2005, Erik's biggest success at Le Mans followed. He was on the podium, finishing second overall in the #16 Pescarolo C60 Hybrid, together with Emmanuel Collard and Jean-Christophe Boullion. The trio also scored the second place at 1000 km of Spa.
The season 2006 was the last in circuit racing
At the 2005 Japanese GT Championship, Comas continued to drive for Hasemi Motorsport, together with Kaneishi, finishing 15th in the points. For the 2006 season, his last in Japan and last in a career, Comas joined Kondo Racing. He participated in five races in the #24 Nissan Fairlady Z, together with Masataka Yanagida. Comas finished 18th in the points.
In his last season of the circuit racing, Comas competed at Le Mans together with Emmanuel Collard and Nicolas Minassian in the #16 Pescarolo C60 Hybrid. The French trio finished fifth overall.
Collecting victories at classic rally stages
After retiring from the circuit racing, Comas focused on historic rally cars. He gained his first rally experience back in 2000, competing in few North American events with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV. In November 2000, Comas participated in his only WRC event, the Rally Australia. He was driving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI and crashed out at Special Stage 14.
In 2009, he drove the Alpine-Renault A110 at Safari Classic Rally. In 2012, he switched to Lancia Stratos HF, winning few notable events with that car (Sanremo Rally Storico, Rallylegend, Targa Florio Historic). In 2014, he also won the La Carrera Panamericana historic rally with Studebaker Starliner. In 2016, Comas is still active. He is competing in the ERC Historic championship.