No, this is not a ‘whoa, cool crash’ list…
- Check out the original post on driving.ca HERE
We get it. We really do, and we understand that some of you may find this list a little in poor taste following Sophia Floersch’s sickening accident at Macau last weekend. Rest assured, everyone at driving.ca is incredibly relieved to hear that Sophia is not only recovering well after 11 hours of surgery, but that the former Ginetta Junior race winner has been active on social media promising that she is “going to come back!” We certainly hope so.
However, while colossal accidents for both Sophia and Guelph native Robert Wickens in recent months have demonstrated just how dangerous motorsport can truly be, it’s important to remember how far safety in the sport has come, and why strives to make motor racing less hazardous drivers, spectators and marshals alike should never slow down. If nothing else, the fact that these five drivers walked away from their own enormous shunts unaided proves as such.
1. Ferdinand Habsburg – Silverstone, 2015
It’s the opening lap of fourth round of the 2015 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 at Silverstone, and as the field crosses the start-finish line to complete its first tour in anger, a safety car is deployed to recover Jehan Daruvala, who, having been punted by Fortec Motorsport teammate Ben Barnicoat of all people, ends up on his roof in the tyre barriers at Becketts. The leaders, aware that a full-course yellow has been thrown, reduce speed onto the main straight, an action that unfortunately catches the pursuing pack completely by surprise (1m 05s).
Unsighted, Ferdinand Habsburg – yet another Fortec driver – ploughs into the back of Barnicoat – busy boy – sending the 500(ish)kg single seater hurtling almost 15ft in the air. Habsburg lands with a sickening thump, and even barrel rolls for just a teensy bit more drama. Incredibly though, 18-year old Austrian driver walks away under his own steam, and though he missed the second and third races of the weekend, Habsburg was back in action just one week later at the Nürburgring.
2. Konstantin Tereshchenko – Spa-Francorchamps, 2014
This one had to be awkward, and we’re not just talking about the elevation.
The driver is then-20-year old Russian, Konstantin Tereshchenko. He’s the inaugural Formula Russia champion (just Google it…) and this accident happened on his GP3 Series race debut. That’s already not a great start, but what makes things worse is that this accident took place before the race had even started.
Caught out by the slick conditions during free practice, Tereshchenko hits his brakes way too hard on the run-up to The Chicane at Spa-Francorchamps, putting the #23 Trident-entered Dallara onto the grass as a result. Unable to slow its momentum, the single seater gets some serious air over the ‘sausage’ kerb before landing heavily and barrel rolling into the tyre barriers, where the Mecachrome six-cylinder erupts into flames.
Fortunately, Tereshchenko manages to scramble out unassisted. Unfortunately, having missed his GP3 debut altogether, it would be over a year before the Russian got another shot. Still, when he finally did, he was well on his way to the 2015 Spanish Formula 3 Championship.
3. Salvador Durán – Estoril, 2008
Such is the omnipresence of catch fencing at any reputable motor racing circuit, it’s rare that we see a car being launched across both a gravel trap and the tyres barriers into the slip road behind it (something made famous by Patrick Carpentier). We doubt it was the way Salvador Durán wanted to end the penultimate round of his 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season either.
Closing in on Fortec Motorsport’s Fairuz Fauzy – oh hey guys, haven’t seen you in a couple of entries – down the main straight at Estoril, the two make contact when the Malaysian driver brakes for the left-handed turn one a fraction earlier than the incoming Durán. A lock-up for the Mexican driver, who’s now right on Fauzy’s gearbox, means contact is inevitable, and the #19 Formula Renault vaults into the gravel trap, where Durán barrel rolls several times before finally coming to rest on the other side of the tyre barriers. A slight limp aside, caused by his legs rattling around the cockpit, the former Daytona 24 Hours winner is out quickly and walking away.
Durán unfortunately would no-score at the season finale in Barcelona just a few weeks later, but would, fittingly, claim his third fastest lap of the season during the event.
4. Scott Dixon – Indy 500, 2017
Just goes to show, it can happen to the best of them. Coming into the 2017 Indy 500, Kiwi Scott Dixon was already a four-time IndyCar champion – he’d become only the second driver in history to win a fifth in 2018 – and the ‘08 Indy 500 winner. At quarter-distance of America’s oldest motor race in 2017, Dixon, having qualified on pole position, was hunting down fellow former champ Ryan Hunter-Reay for 7th and was still well in contention for the race win. Trouble struck though when a lapped Jay Howard, out wide on the marbles and readying himself for inevitable impact out of turn two, could do nothing to stop his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-entered DW12 from rolling back down the track into the path of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon. Already well above 250kph, the Kiwi’s single seater would ride over Howard’s cockpit, launch itself into the air and half-land with sickening ferocity on the safety barrier just by pit entry.
It was a relief to all concerned when Dixon stepped unaided out of his car, the back half of which had been ripped completely away in the impact. The Kiwi would be back in action just one week later for the double-header at Detroit, the first race of which, incidentally, he finished 2nd.
5. Alexandre Prémat – Adria, 2010
A bittersweet entry, but one we couldn’t ignore. It was sensational to see Alexandre Prémat extricating himself from this horror shunt at Adria International Raceway in Germany with only a small cut on his foot to show for it. In a cruel twist though, this would ultimately be Prémat’s final DTM outing, Audi dismissing the former Macau Grand Prix winner before the final round of the 2010 season after, what the company called, ‘differing opinions’. Translation, this wasn’t the Frenchman’s first colossal shunt in the DTM, and the factory-backed Team Phoenix was through getting stuck with the repair bill.
Still, Prémat’s departure from the series was at least among the most dramatic the series had ever seen. Having been pushed wide out of the final corner by former Formula 1 Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher, Prémat attempted to rejoin the track ahead of Mercedes’ Maro Engel. Wet conditions and a bugger-ton of spray being chucked out by the cars in front though meant Engel simply couldn’t see the #9 Audi A4 DTM trying to rejoin the circuit until it was too late. A light tap was all that was needed to send Prémat into the barriers and grass several times, the Audi destroyed beyond recognition in the frightening incident.
Just three days later, Premat was travelling to the United States to watch the New York Marathon, an event he had hoped to compete in although, in his own words, “running a 42km distance so soon after such a serious accident would not have been a wise thing to do.” Critically, he still could.
*Lead image courtesy of Alex Coppel and Herald Sun