Heikki Kovalainen: “I didn’t really know where I was or what was happening…”

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:

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Heikki Kovalainen: “I didn’t really know where I was or what was happening…”

  1. D

    A shame indeed, he’d been undefeated on Saturday from what I recall, and lost to Loeb in that race by inches.

    Its strange though how the RoC can take such a wonderful event format for TV and turn it into such a poor show. The commentators appear to have little to no information on the running order, the cars to be used in each race appear to be decided randomly at the last second, and as for the rules covering qualification out of the group … well, Ive still no idea what the tie-break decider between drivers on equal win/loss numbers was!

    Youd think it was the first time theyd done this, but the same company has produced the coverage for the same commentary team for the last few years, they really should be getting it right by this stage.

    A little more communication to the commentators and a little more use of on-screen graphics to tell viewers who is in the cars we’re watching on the start line would go a long way.

    • I agree with everything you say. I watched most of it from high up in the public stands and it was just luck that I’d brought a printout of the drivers in each group, as that gave me some idea of who was coming next. The German only commentary (when they weren’t playing music) echoed around the place and I’m sure even most locals couldn’t pick up much, and it was nigh on impossible to read any names or data on the big stadium TV screens. The only hope was provided by the flags on each car…

  2. Steve C

    Without telling me the results – is there any idea when this will be aired in the States on HDNET? I sure like watching the show and now more than ever after reading the story about Heikki.

    Steve

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