Over a big glass of Egg-nog, we’ve put our noggins together to count down the five biggest and best motorsport crashes of 2016.
THERE’S nothing quite like a mega motorsport mash to get a rev-head sweaty palmed and biting their nails to the nerve, evoking a feel of both breathtaking excitement and sheer terror at exactly the same time. Only motorsport can do this.
Everyone loves a good overtake, especially when said overtake is carried out by teen F1 sensation Max Verstappen, in conditions that would make Noahs Ark look a dry story. But let’s be honest: Nothing can captivate an audience like cars barrelling through the air (upside down) at 300kph.
“I love a good crash… as long as the driver jumps out ok,” is the usual thought process, so settle down with another slab of beer and Chrissy Pud, and enjoy the best of what 2016 dished up.
5. David Nalbandian, Rally de Entre Rios
In his career as a professional tennis player, Argentinian David Nalbandian picked up 11 Career titles and got as high as number three in the world rankings in 2006. So the fact that most results that come up upon googling the 34 year old involve his crash, really do put in perspective what a scary one it was.
Driving for a Rally Team known as Tango in his native Rally de Entre Rios at the start of November, Nalbandian came a cropper in November after becoming airborne over a rise before returning to the ground nose-first. This prompted the little Chevy he was at the wheel of to flip twice end on end before coming to rest. Although the car was bundled out in straight sets, both the Wimbledon runner up and his co-driver emerged unscathed.
4. Christopher Bell, NASCAR Trucks at Daytona
The final lap of the NASCAR Trucks race in February was a very flippant affair for Christopher Bell, in every sense of the word. Firstly, in his over-excitement at the prospect of securing a top three finish, Bell got a little aggressive and ploughed into the side of Tim Peters, before losing control and flipping a dizzying number of times.
The fact the incident occurred very near the front of the field magnified the gravity of the situation, resulting in a concertina effect seeing a majority of the 20-odd trucks remaining in the race suffering serious damage.
3. Lee Holdsworth, Hidden Valley, Race 2
Returning home and without a doubt the biggest and most scary moment of Supercars this season took place up in the Northern Territory with the second and final race of the Darwin round in June. To refresh the memory, this was one of the more serious incidents of the year, with Lee Holdsworth coming off a little (read: a lot) worse for wear. On the exit of the turn one hairpin on lap 1 of the race, much of the field was jostling for space which just wasn’t there. Cars were forced from the narrow strip of road left and right, with Holdsworth among them. Copping an accidental hip and shoulder from another car, the Preston Hire Pilot was vaulted drivers-side-on to the inside concrete wall. The 33 year old had to be helped from his car and was later confirmed to have fractured his pelvis.
Ouch. Even more painful was the fact he was then forced to miss the following 2 rounds of the championship.
2. Ryan Tveter and Peter Zhi Cong Li, Euro Formula 3, Spielberg
This one was a spectacular moment coming about in circumstances rarely before seen. After getting a little wide at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, Ryan Tveter lost control and spun into a gravel trap. Only trouble was, it didn’t stop him, and he was able to use the momentum of the spin to reverse himself back onto the track. Coming to a complete stop and shrouded in a cloud of his own dust, two unsuspecting cars arrived on the scene with spectacular effect.
First was Tveter’s own teammate, Peter Zhi Cong Li, who ploughed square into the back of Tveter’s car. Front aero bodywork well and truly out the window, Li’s car was lifted metres in the air, with several flips ensuing for good measure. As if Tveter hadn’t already had enough, Pedro Piquet was powerless to avoid the mess and likewise collected the back of the stricken car.
All drivers emerged in one piece, but Tveter and Li were airlifted to hospital, the former sustaining heavy knee bruising, and the latter four fractured vertebrae.
1. Fernando Alonso, Australian Grand Prix
This one ticks all the boxes: Huge crash, multiple flips, internationally renowned motorsport in the opening race of the season, occurring in Australia, but not to an Australian. That’s right; it’s poor old Fernando Alonso’s Formula One crash at the Australian Grand Prix. On lap 17 of the race, Ferdie went for an overtake around the outside of an unsuspecting Esteban Gutierrez, only for the Mexican to venture a little wide and forcing Alonso into a space that wasn’t there. From here the Spaniard caught the back of the Haas, destroying his front right suspension, and pitching him into the concrete barrier on the outside to remove the left-hand side of the car as well.
As the car rebounded off that wall the second-hand McLaren became sideways and turned over, with speed causing it to become airborne. The car flipped several times before coming to rest just inches from another concrete wall. Alonso climbed from the car largely unscathed, displaying the simply remarkable safety standards of modern day F1.
Still not satisfied? Below are some similarly spectacular incidents that are also worth a look.
Joseph Newgarten, IndyCar Texas 600
This one came about after Conor Daly (on the inside) lost it, swinging in to Joseph Newgarten on the outside. This resulted in the pair sliding in synchronicity down the track before again colliding with the wall, wiping the top of the car along the edge of the track. Newgarten suffered a broken right shoulder and hand as a result.
Laurens Vanthoor, FIA GT World Cup in Macau
Audi gun Laurens Vanthoor is overtaken around the outside by the Porsche of Earl Bamber heading into the high-speed turn 2. This forces Vanthoor to enter the corner slightly narrow, also copping significant aero disturbance from the passing Porsche. The Audi collects the exit wall on the outside of the track, prompting it to lift up nose-first and land on its top, before sliding about 100 metres down the road. Vanthoor is unhurt, and best of all, still wins the race courtesy of his bringing out the red flag on a race in its closing stages.
Brendon Hartley, 6 hours of Silverstone WEC race
Don’t you just hate it when a car is going so slow it becomes more of a hazard than a hindrance? Kiwi Brendon Hartley experienced such a situation the hard way as his LMP1 Porsche was attempting to overtake a GT-class Porsche. Disaster ensued as the quicker car attempted to overtake around the outside, but without enough room a collision was bound to happen. The LMP was sprung onto its side, riding the GT car before the pair disperse and end up in the dirt – ending the race of both teams.