20 May 2015
Hinchcliffe 'to make full recovery' from injuries
A positive update on James Hinchcliffe's condition says that the driver is out of ICU and should make a full recovery from his injuries.
The latest update on the condition of Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe has said that he's now out of the Intensive Care Unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital, and that the 28-year-old Canadian "continues to make substantial improvement."
Hinchcliffe was injured in an accident during Indy 500 practice on Monday afternoon when a suspension failure on the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda resulted him going into the safety barrier in turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A piece of suspension penetrated the driver safety cell and caused injuries to Hinchcliffe's left thigh and pelvic area. Quick action from the Holmatro safety team stemmed potentially life-threatening blood loss from a severed artery and he was quickly transported to the nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery performed by Dr Timothy Pohlman, senior staff trauma surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital.
After two nights in ICU, Hinchcliffe has now been transferred out as he continues to recover from the accident, with the medical team forecasting that he should make a full recovery from his injuries in due course.
"We're very pleased with his progress and his condition continues to improve," said Dr Pohlman. "Our expectation, in consultation with the IndyCar medical staff, is that a normal recovery is to be expected."
No timetable had been given for how long he will be out of competition, and he has been ruled out of Verizon IndyCar Series competition for the foreseeable future although his fellow drivers had no doubt that his passion for racing means that Hinch will be back as soon as he can.
"Every time we hop in that race car, we don't know if we're going to come out of it, if you're going to come out of it in one piece, if something's going to happen to you," said former Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, who is making his 300th series start in this year's event.
""That's what makes us different than other people. That's why not everybody can do this. It's never easy to see a friend of yours get hurt or lost a friend of yours. But this is the sport that we chose," he said. "Accident happen. We hate them, but it's part of our job."
Hinchcliffe had qualified in 24th place for this year's Indy 500 in his first season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, moving from Andretti Autosport over the off-season.
Team owner Sam Schmidt told The Indianapolis Star on Tuesday that the team would still compete in the Indy 500, and that they were looking at five candidates to fill the seat of the #5 in Sunday's race alongside Hinchcliffe's existing team mates James Jakes and Conor Daly.
Initial speculation centered on Katherine Legge as a possible stand-in, but media reports on Wednesday said that Ryan Briscoe would be Hinchcliffe's replacement although an official announcement is not expected from the team until Thursday.
Briscoe has had nine Indy 500 starts since his first appearance in 2005, including five with Team Penske and three with Chip Ganassi Racing. He was the pole winner for the 2012 event and has twice finished the race in the top five.
The Australian is a veteran of 128 starts in US open wheel competition and has seven race wins dating from the first in 2008 at Milwaukee among 27 podium places, plus 13 pole positions. The 33-year-old is currently competing in the GTLM class of the United Sports Car Championship but is available this weekend to take over from Hinchcliffe.
Under Indy 500 rules, it's the car rather than the driver who qualifies for the starting grid, which means that the #5 can still take part in the race even though the team will have to build up a new car from first principles. The driver change means that the car will have to start from the back of the grid.
It's not yet clear whether Briscoe will be required to undergo a formal refresher program before he is allowed to take part in Sunday's race. Although he completed a full season of IndyCar competition in 2014 including last year's Indy 500, the fact that he hasn't driven one of the cars at all this season since they have been equipped with the new aerodynamic aero kits might still mean that race officials want him to blow off the cobwebs regardless.
Race officials have already indicated that given the circumstances they are open to making an hour's extra track time available on Thursday for whoever takes over the #5 car. There will also be an hour's final practice session on Friday, which is known as 'Carb Day', but after that the next outing will be to take the green flag for the 99th running of the greatest spectacle in motorsport.
Longer term, Briscoe is unlikely to be available as a permanent replacement for Hinchcliffe for the rest of the season because of his prior commitment to the United Sports Car Championship. After the Indy 500, both series are due to be in competition the following weekend at Detroit.
Conor Daly may be retained by the team since he's already working with them for the Month of May. Another possible candidate would be Justin Wilson, who has not found a full time ride for 2015 but who will be competing in this weekend's Indy 500 as part of a two-race deal with Andretti Autosport. Wilson was previously James Jakes' team mate at Dale Coyne Racing in 2012.
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