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PHOTOS: The worst motorsport mishaps

July 24, 2013 09:32 IST

PHOTOS: The worst motorsport mishaps

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The roaring of those super vehicles, racers exerting loads of torque. Nothing matches the thrill and adrenaline rush at motorsports events.

We’ve seen races make and break careers. Everything is put on the line -- sometimes even lives -- to taste that one sweet win.

For F1 racers Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna, IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and, more recently, Italian rider Andrea Antonelli, the race track turned out to be a death trap.

Rediff.com gives you a glimpse of some accidents that saw many great motor racing heroes lose their lives.

Andrea Antonelli

Italian rider Andrea Antonelli died after a high-speed crash on the opening lap of a World Supersport Championship race at the Moscow Raceway on Sunday.

The 25-year-old died after suffering a head wound when he came off his Kawasaki at 250 kph in torrential rain on the opening lap and was hit by a following rider.

Officials called off the race, and the day's headline World Superbike Championship event.




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Ayrton Senna

Considered and voted as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all-time, Ayrton Senna died on May 1, 1994, after his car crashed into a concrete barrier during the San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Italy.

Driving for Williams, the Brazilian had expressed his concerns about the safety of the car and his discomfort while driving it.

The race was doomed right from the start with Pedro Lamy and JJ Lehto involved in an accident early on.

Then on lap 7, Senna's car left the racing line at the 190 mph Tamburello corner, ran in a straight line off the track and struck a concrete barrier. He died of fatal skull fractures.

A 500-page report officially blamed failure of the steering wheel for Senna's death.

While Senna's crash remains the most recent to claim the life of a Formula One driver, three accidents since claimed the lives of track side marshals.

Also Read

Remembering Ayrton Senna

The pain of the past will always be there

Williams back to court over Senna death

 

Senna's death left indelible mark

 

 


Image: The Rothmans Williams car of Senna lies shattered on the track after he crashed into the concrete barrier
Photographs: AFP/Getty Images

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Gilles Villeneuve

Villeneuve, runner-up in the 1979 championship to South African teammate Jody Scheckter, died in practice, on May 8, for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder after a collision with a March, driven by Germany's Jochen Mass.

The car was destroyed, cartwheeling across the track while the driver was hurled from the car into the metal catch fence. He was declared dead in hospital that evening.

Ferrari immediately withdrew and went home.

Villeneuve was a fan favourite and an icon of the sport.

Also Read

Ferrari idol Villeneuve remembered on 30th death anniversary


Image: Ferrari's Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve
Photographs: Allsport UK / ALLSPORT

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Dan Wheldon

Briton IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon died after a horrific 15-car crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2011.

The 33-year-old was involved in a multi-car accident 13 laps into the Las Vegas Indy 300 which sent his vehicle flying and left wreckage and debris across the track.

Wheldon's car flew over another and caught part of the catch fence just past the apex of turn two.

The incident left Townsend Bell's car upside down and smouldering cars strewn along the track.

Wheldon, who lived in St Petersburg, Florida, was flown by helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas for treatment before his death was announced two hours later.


Image: The car of Dan Wheldon (top left) bursts into flames during the Las Vegas Indy 300 part of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships
Photographs: Getty Images

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Marco Simoncelli

Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli died after a horrific crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on October 23, 2011, a week after Wheldon lost his life.

Simoncelli, 24, crashed on the second lap and was hit by the bikes of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi as he slid across the track on his Honda.

His helmet was knocked off in the incident and the season's penultimate race was stopped immediately with a red flag and then cancelled.

Simoncelli lay stricken on the track before being taken to the circuit's medical centre where he was pronounced dead.


Image: Honda MotoGP's Marco Simoncelli of Italy lies on the ground after a crash during the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang
Photographs: Reuters

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Bill Warner

Bill Warner, an American motorcycle racer, died on July 14, this year, after suffering a crash at an annual racing event in Maine.

According to race officials, Warner was clocked at 285 mph before he lost control of his Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle during The Maine Event – an annual racing competition, at Loring Air Force Base. He was attempting to reach 300 mph in one mile.

According to sources, Warner's crew suspected mechanical difficulties on his last run, in addition to a slight breeze.

Motorcycle land-speed record holder, Warner's best land-speed record, set in 2011, was 311.945 mph in 1.5 miles on the same runway.


Image: Bill Warner in action
Photographs: Twitter/Suzuki Cycles

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Allan Simonsen

Danish driver Allan Simonsen died after his fatal crash at the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race on June 23 this year.

The 34-year-old, driving an Aston Martin, spun into the barriers at Tertre Rouge on lap three after just 10 minutes of an endurance race.

He was the first driver to die in the race for 27 years and the 22nd fatality linked to it since the first running on public roads near the cathedral city in western France 90 years ago.

Simonsen, one of the world's more experienced endurance drivers at the La Sarthe circuit, was competing in the GTE Am class for production-based sportscars which are slower than the LMP1 and LMP2 prototype categories.


Image: Security members work near the car of Denmark's Allan Simonsen during the Le Mans 24-hour sportscar race in Le Mans
Photographs: Francois Navarro/Reuters

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S Dinesh Edwin

Twenty-year-old bike racer S Dinesh Edwin succumbed to his injuries after skidding off the track during a pay and practice session at the Madras Motor Race Track on May 8. He was declared brought brain-dead by the hospital.

The accident occurred when he slid out onto the run-off area turn seven and ended up in a ditch. The fall caused multiple injuries.

According to doctors, Dinesh, who was kept alive for two days on life support, could have been saved by timely first-aid and evacuation, but lack of ambulances or doctors at the track resulted in the delay that turned out to be fatal.


Image: S Dinesh Edwin


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Henry Surtees

On July 19, 2009, eighteen-year-old Henry Surtees died of injuries received when he was struck on the head by an errant wheel in another freak accident during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch.

Organisers said the blow knocked him unconscious, with his car then smashing into the barriers. The race was stopped immediately.

He was the son of 1964 Formula One champion John Surtees.


Image: Henry Surtees
Photographs: Formula 2

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Jason Leffler

NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died after an accident at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway, on June 13.

The 37-year-old Leffler, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Series, was pronounced dead shortly after 9 p.m. local time, New Jersey State Police said.

Bridgeport Speedway immediately suspended racing for the rest of the night after Leffler's accident at the 0.625-mile, high-banked dirt oval.

He had been racing sprint car events most of this year, including Wednesday night's race, which promised a $7,000 prize to the winner.


Image: Jason Leffler
Photographs: Getty Images

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Roland Ratzenberger

The San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Not only did it mark the death of the great Senna, but it also saw the passing of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger.

Also, in the first practice session of that fateful race, Rubens Barrichello, was involved in a serious accident -- breaking his nose -- and did not compete in the main race.

Driving for the newly formed Simtek team, Roland Ratzenberger, attempting to qualify for only the second Grand Prix of his career, hit the wall at Villeneuve corner at Imola on April 30th 1994.

The accident fractured the base of Ratzenberger’s skull and sent shock waves through an already nervous sport – Barrichello having crashed heavily the previous day.

Ratzenberger ran over a kerb hard during his warm-up lap, damaging the mountings of his front wing in the process. Travelling at approximately 190 mph, Ratzenberger’s front wing came apart approaching the corner and he hit the concrete wall head on.

Also Read

Remembering Ratzenberger


Image: Austria's Roland Ratzenberger is stretchered away to a helicopter after crashing during practice for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on April 30, 1994
Photographs: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT

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On July 25 2009, Ferrari’s Brazilian driver Felipe Massa was airlifted to a Budapest hospital with a skull fracture as the result of an injury received during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian was knocked unconscious when a spring, which had become detached from the rear suspension of Rubens Barrichello's Brawn, struck Massa on the head as he reached 175mph on one of the fastest sections of the Hungaroring.

The spring, weighing around 700 gms, had somehow penetrated the top of his visor and injured Massa above the left eye, perilously close to the cornea.

Massa suffered a cut forehead, skull damage and concussion in the accident.

The qualifying session was stopped as Massa was removed to the track's medical centre and stabilised before being flown to hospital, where he successfully underwent emergency surgery.


Image: An injured Felipe Massa being taken to a hospital after crashing
Photographs: Reuters

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