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Franchitti sent to hospital after huge last-lap crash

7 October 2013

Dario Franchitti has been admitted to hospital with concussion, back injuries and a fractured ankle after being involved in a scary final lap accident in race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.

Franchitti was following Takuma Sato through the fast turn 5 when the AJ Foyt Racing car lost the back end and slewed wide, leaving Franchitti with nowhere to go but into and over the back of the #14. That launched Franchitti up into the air and into the catchfence, which snapped the #10 into a vicious midair spin and shredded bodywork off the chassis, showering debris over the track and through the remains of the wrecked catchfence toward the spectator grandstands.

Takuma Sato was unhurt in the accident, as was EJ Viso who was first on the scene and who ran into the side of Sato's car. However there was concern for Franchitti who was unable to extricate himself from the wreck of his car, forcing him to wait in place for the medical team to arrive to evaluate him and then move him onto a stretcher for transportation to the nearby trauma centre.

Franchitti's team owner Chip Ganassi rushed to the scene and spoke briefly with his driver. He said that Franchitti was awake but understandably somewhat dazed: "He's talking. His ankle is a little sore. His back is a little sore. He's going to take a trip to the hospital, but he is okay."

Other witnesses confirmed that Franchitti was awake and moving, with some reports suggesting that he had waved reassuringly to onlookers.

A subsequent brief statement from the IndyCar Series confirmed the positive news: "Dario Franchitti was admitted awake and alert to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston for a concussion, spinal fracture and a broken right ankle."

An update on Monday said that Franchitti had undergone surgery on the ankle to stabilise the break. His back injury is not expected to require any surgical treatment, but he will still be kept in hospital in Houston for a few days.

"Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes," said Franchitti in a statement released by IndyCar. "They mean a lot to me. I would also like to send my best to all the fans involved in the accident and hope that everyone is alright."

In addition to Franchitti, an estimated 13 fans in the grandstand also needed medical treatment of some sort. Most of them were treated at the scene, but two people have been transported to the hospital. Additional reports said that IndyCar timing and scoring official Kim Tyger suffered minor injuries and had also been taken to the hospital.

The race itself finished under yellow with Will Power taking the win ahead of Franchitti's Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon, while James Hinchcliffe took third place ahead of Justin Wilson. A seventh place finish for Simon Pagenaud rules the Frenchman out of contention for the championship going into the final round of the season in two weeks time at Fontana, which will now see Dixon and Helio Castroneves go head-to-head for this year's honours.


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