Heikki Kovalainen proved yesterday in Dusseldorf that any kind of motor sport can be dangerous when he was knocked unconscious after a spectacular crash at the Race of Champions.
In the very first race of the day Kovalainen was matched against rally ace Sebastien Loeb. In his efforts to stay in touch Heikki touched the wall with his Audi R8 coming out of the final corner, and then suffered a suspension breakage as he crossed the line and headed into Turn One. He hit the blocks that mark the inside of the track, and then spun into the wall on the outside.
Heikki was briefly unconscious but after a trip to the hospital he returned to the venue a few hours later.
“The rear suspension broke when I touched the wall, and also the throttle jammed at the same time,” he told this blog.
“I actually hit the wall for quite a long way. I sort of planned it beforehand, that I can afford to bounce a little bit on the wall. So I was actually going on the power earlier than before, because I knew that it was going to be a close fight with Loeb. And it broke the rear suspension.
“When I lifted I still had full throttle, so I went on the brakes and the car turned to the left, and I was a passenger. I hit with the left rear corner, and that’s when it knocked me out. I was unconscious and a little bit dizzy.
“Half an hour after the impact I didn’t really know where I was or what was happening, but on the way to the hospital everything started to come back. It’s sort of normal. I’ve had this feeling before, when I hit the wall in Barcelona [with the McLaren in 2008], but then the blackout was longer. Now everything came back, I remember every single corner and moment before.”
It’s customary to take VIPs on passenger rides at the RoC, and by chance Hekki was accompanied on his dramatic ride by none other than his girlfriend, Catherine Hyde.
“Catherine is fine, she just has a little bit of back pain. She didn’t lose consciousness. It was quite an experience for her. The only thing that worried her was when I was sitting there unconscious!
“She’s fine, she’s cool, just a little back pain on the left. I think the belts pulled her a little bit.”
The accident did of course put an end to Heikki’s participation in the event, which he famously won back in 2004.
“It’s a shame, it was a close fight with Loeb, and I thought I had him. The second lap wasn’t quite as good as the first lap, but really after that kind of impact it’s kind of game over, and it’s better to be pleased that nothing happened…”
Footage of the crash can be found here: