Los Angeles – Canadian rookie Robert Wickens was in hospital with “orthopaedic injuries” after a frightening airborne crash in the early stages of the IndyCar Pocono race won by ex-Formula One racer Alexander Rossi.
Wickens, of Guelph, Ontario, was rushed to hospital by air ambulance on Sunday after he collided with Ryan Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
The collision came as they exited turn two and caused Hunter-Reay’s car to careen into the wall, and Wickens’ car was pulled along with it.
Wickens launched over Hunter-Reay’s car and sailed into the catch fence, where the main body of his IndyCar spun several times before landing back onto the track in pieces.
IndyCar spokesperson Curt Cavin said the rookie driver was “awake and alert” as he was transported to a nearby hospital.
IndyCar released a statement after the race saying the 29-year-old suffered “orthopaedic injuries” but declined to go into details.
“Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens, involved in a crash on Lap 7 of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway today, has been admitted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with orthopaedic injuries. He is still being evaluated,” the statement said.
“It’s been a long day here at @poconoraceway. We’re keeping @robertwickens in our thoughts after that scary incident.”
Fellow drivers said Wickens was lucky to be alive.
“He is hurt but hopefully not too bad. At least he is alive,” said French driver Sebastien Bourdais.
Hunter-Reay was also among those treated for injuries after a crash that also swept up Pietro Fittipaldi, James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato.
The race was restarted after a two-hour delay while race workers cleared the track and fixed the busted fence.
Hunter-Reay said he felt fortunate to have come out of it without more serious injuries. He was one those who was treated at the race track medical facility and released.
“I was lucky to get out of that one,” said Hunter-Reay.
Fittipaldi wasn’t involved in the initial collision but was right behind the others in a tight pack and ran head long into smoke and debris.
“I am a little sore,” said Fittipaldi, who was knocked out of the race. “I saw all the smoke ahead. When I saw I was going to hit Hinch head on I had to slam the breaks and get low.
“When I did that, with the debris, I lost the car and hit him sideways.
“I talked to Hinch and Sato, there was so much debris and fluid on the track. I was just trying to slow down and get down. I lost it. It is what it is.”
Australian driver Will Power said he was relieved to know Wickens, who drives for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was alert.
“It is just terrible, but I am so glad he is awake and alert. He is OK as far as that goes,” said Power. “You know he is going to have some injuries but so glad everyone is fine.”
Rossi led for 180 of the 200 lap race to record his second straight IndyCar Series victory.
He also closed to within just 29 points of New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, who leads the championship points race with 530 points.
Sunday’s race was the 14th in the 17-race IndyCar season.