Lauda, McCoy's rehabilitation guru dies.

The man who oversaw Niki Lauda's return to fitness after the horrific, fiery accident that almost claimed his life in 1976 has died. Willi Dungl, the famed Austrian rehabilitation guru, most recently supervised the recuperation of Australian motorcycle grand prix racer Garry McCoy.

Other sports stars Dungl treated for career-threatening injuries included another Austrian Formula One ace, Gerhard Berger, tennis stars Steffi Graf and Thomas Muster and ski great Hermann Maier. Dungl, 64, suffered a heart attack on May 1 and died soon after.

The Dungl Clinic in the small Austrian town of Gars am Kamp was home to McCoy during his eight-week rehabilitation from a double fracture to his right leg in February.

Just six weeks after entering the Dungl clinic McCoy raced in the MotoGP season-opening Japanese GP with a 25cm steel rod and five screws in his leg.

"The treatment at the Dungl clinic was very impressive," McCoy said. "I doubt I could have been back riding so soon without it.

"Even though I was treated daily by the doctors and therapists at the clinic, Willi took an interest in my progress and condition. I spoke to him a couple of times and he always seemed to know what was going on, even though he was very busy.

"He had three different clinics and a hotel for patients in Gars and always seemed to be on the move. His clinic was full of photos of people he had treated - guys like Lauda and Berger from F1, and lots of others."

Lauda was given the last rites in hospital after his crash at the old Nurburging circuit but lived to win two more world titles, found an airline, and is now running Jaguar's Formula One team.

Berger, who survived a huge blaze after his Ferrari crashed at Imola in 1989, is now motor sport director of BMW, which supplies the engines to the Williams F1 team.

-agp-