Natacha Gachnang is recovering in hospital following an operation to reset the broken leg she suffered in qualifying for her FIA GT series debut in Abu Dhabi.
The Swiss driver, cousin of Toro Rosso F1 pilot Sebastien Buemi, sustained a double compound fracture of her right leg after ploughing into the run-off area at turn eight of the new Yas Marina circuit, but, after a successful operation at the Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Abu Dhabi, is 'stable and recovering'.
The incident occurred at the end of the fastest part of the circuit, where the drivers are approaching 260km/h. At the braking point at the end of the straight, Gachnang started braking as normal. A leak was reported in the rear brake circuit, which required her to press back hard on the pedal but, while putting pressure on the brake, her
foot also caught the accelerator. Although the front brake circuit continued to function correctly, the combination of factors led to Gachnang failing to negotiate the corner and going down the escape road, where she hit the barriers.
Although the safety and security devices on the Matech Ford GT helped Gachnang avoided more serious injuries, she still needed to be airlifted from the circuit's medical centre to Sheikh Khalifa Hospital.
The Matech team has thanked the hospital, Yas Marina Circuit medical centre and all other medical services, as well as the FIA, Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, the Yas Marina Circuit safety crew, marshals and everyone who had helped and extended their support to its driver.
GT1 series promoter Stephane Ratel claimed that the safety facilities at the Abu Dhabi track, which made its F1 debut in last season's grand prix finale, had played a major role in saving Gachnang's life.
"The accident was spectacular and she hit the barrier very, very hard," he told the National
newspaper, "I think we have all been very lucky. Natacha is okay - she has a broken leg and is staying in hospital for the next three days.
“It could have been a far worse situation on another circuit if she'd hit another type of barrier at such a high speed. If there had just been a few tyres and a concrete wall behind it, the situation would have been very different. We are on one of the safest circuits in the world with the latest spec of racing safety protection and technology, and I think that probably saved her."