Davidson injured in Le Mans crash

17/06/2012
NEWS STORY

Mercedes test driver Anthony Davidson, has broken two vertebrae whilst participating in the Le Mans 24 Hour race with Toyota Racing.

The Englishman, who contested 24 Grands Prix with Minardi, BAR and Super Aguri, and is now analyst with the Sky Sports F1 team, was injured in a horrific clash with a slower car just hours into the race.

Initially treated at the circuit's medical centre, he was subsequently taken to a local hospital for further checks, it was here that the two broken vertebrae were discovered.

"Basically I have two broken vertebrae; T11 and T12," he said later. "The doctors say the average recovery time is three months, but that's an average person not a professional sportsman or athlete. That estimate is to get back to an absolutely healed bone; as strong as it was before. It's more like three weeks until the pain subsides and I get my mobility back fully.

"I have felt better, that's for sure," he added. "I am in a bit of pain, in my lumber area, the middle area of my back. That's the only thing that hurts really so I've been lucky."

Asked about the accident, he said: "I was almost completely past the car after the apex of the kink. I passed a Corvette and a Ferrari with the pro driver sticker on. They were fighting each other and I just assumed the Ferrari ahead was part of their group and therefore another pro. The car was all the way to the left as you would expect a pro driver to do. It was only when I got right up to the back that I realized it was one of the amateur-stickered cars. But I still wasn't alarmed, I still felt it was a completely legitimate move and thought he would stay to the left, which it looked like he was doing. I made the apex of the corner, started to brake and I was almost out of the corner when I felt contact on the left rear.

"Instantly it spun the car, pivoted round to the left, then took off and turned upside down. At that point I felt I was in an aeroplane out of control. I knew how close the barriers were, and travelling at that speed I was going to be there in no time. That part of the crash was pretty petrifying. It crashed back down to the ground, I felt an almighty punch up my spine when the car hit back down on four wheels. I still had my eyes closed and my hands off the wheels, in the brace position. Half a second after that I had the forward impact into the barrier.

"I reopened my eyes and realised I was still here, albeit in a bit of pain. I had feeling and could move my feet; everything was working. I know I should stay in the car, especially with back pain, but initially I felt full of panic and claustrophobia, I just had to get out of the car. It was really odd. I banged the door open and clambered out carefully because I knew I was in pain. I had to stretch out and the closest point was the side of the car, then the medics came over."

Asked to sum up his team's weekend, a weekend which marked Toyota's first works entry since 1999, Davidson, previously a member of the works Peugeot team, said: "More than anything, we wanted to show the speed of the car. When we look back, even from my hospital bed, there were a lot of positives. We needed to tick many boxes this weekend and being fast was one of them. We had a great qualifying session, splitting the Audis, and showed great pace in the race to take the lead through Nico (Lapierre) in the No 7. I think that was really good for the fans."

Davidson revealed that all the Toyota drivers have visited him since the accident. "Stephane (Sarrazin) and Sebastien (Buemi) turned up last night, the No 7 guys this morning and it was a nice touch that my team-mate last year Sebastien Bourdais came to the medical centre. It was nice to see a familiar, friendly face at that moment."

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Published: 17/06/2012
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