A1 Team Japan has had a rocky start to the inaugural A1 Grand Prix season, struggling for pace with its first two drivers and then opting to sit out round three at Estoril to regroup.

Its return to the fray, now with Hayanari Shimoda at the wheel, appeared to spark an upturn in form, with the sportscar ace - and sometime GP2 tester - running strongly before suffering accident damage in race one, and moving through the field in race two, having had to start 18th on the grid owing to his first race result. However, that promise was cut short in the final outing as Shimoda speared off track into one of the biggest accidents the series has seen so far.

No other car was believed to have been involved in the incident, which saw Shimoda flipping in the gravel trap and rolling his Lola to part-destruction before contact with the tyre wall finished the job. With engine and gearbox detached from the safety cell, there were initial fears for the driver's condition. Despite early movement in the cockpit, Shimoda remained strapped in as marshals and medical staff arrived on the scene, and he was eventually taken the medical centre having been gingerly removed from the car.

Fortunately, a precautionary night in hospital allowed doctors to confirm that the Japanese driver was shaken but not injured by his experience, and it is because of this news that we now feel able to publish images of the accident.

For full images of the Shimoda shunt, look here...



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