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“Maria de Villota, X-Games, motorsport safety and Hendrik Vieth”

July 5, 2012

News regarding injuries suffered by F1 reserve driver Maria de Villota, filtered through yesterday afternoon and sadly, it is not good.

In a tragic turn of circumstances, the Spaniard has lost her right eye in the incident which occurred at Duxford Aerodrome on Tuesday morning.

As previously stated, my thoughts go out to Maria, her family and friends at this difficult time. I hope she recovers quickly.

Eventually, thoughts will turn to the circumstances of the accident and there is no doubt, some very serious questions will be raised.
Whether it were car failure or driver error will be identified in time; however it is somewhat less clear why the loading truck was still situated in the pitlane, as opposed to the paddock area once running had commenced.
This was an awful accident and one can only hope the sport learns from such difficulties.

Certainly, with the serious injuries incurred by Marcus Gronholm and Toomas Heikkinen at last weekend’s X-Games in LA, it is easy to say that this has not been a stellar week for motorsport safety.
Indeed, the seriousness of Heikkenen’s practice crash on Friday was amplified by the apparent lack of trackside assistance.

Heikkinen was practicing a 50-foot jump over a pair of raps, but came up short, hitting the edge of the ramp head on as a result. The Ford Fiesta turned over and landed on its roof, before catching fire.
The Finn crawled away from his burning car unaided, despite a broken left ankle and abdominal injuries. Even then, it was some time before any aid reached the 21-year-old.
On Saturday, Gronholm suffered bone compression after hitting an exposed concrete block after losing control of his Ford Fiesta.

One hopes the motorsport world is not becoming blasé to the very real dangers of motorsport for this is an activity that will never be completely safe.

Finally, my condolences to the family and friends of VLN and former Mini Challenge champion Hendrik Vieth. The 30-year-old was killed in a motorbike accident yesterday evening.

Based in the very north-western tip of Germany in the town of Leer, Vieth won the Mini Challenge Germany in 2010 with the GIGAMOT squad – a success that came between two runner-up finishes in the category.

The German racer recently partnered Nick Heidfeld and Klaus Ludwig at the Nurburgring 24 Hours behind the wheel of a McLaren MP4-12C; however their entry did not make it beyond twenty-four laps.
Vieth had spent several years in single seaters, before progressing to the Porsche Carrera Cup in 2004 and even came close to the Formula Renault 2.0 Germany title in 2003, only to lose out to Scotland’s Ryan Sharp.

Vieth is survived by his wife Sabrina.

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