CHAMPCAR/CART: Walker Racing: Naoki Hattori - Gil de Ferran 99-03-23

Naoki's promising start ended with a crash ...

Naoki's promising start ended with a crash # 15 ALPINE - HONDA/REYNARD/GOODYEAR

Gil de Ferran starts 25th and finishes 6th # 5 VALVOLINE/CUMMINS - HONDA/REYNARD/GOODYEAR

Derrick Walker -- Team Owner:

"The new season always presents a great deal of challenges and Homestead certainly taxed our resources. Sadly, Naoki's promising start ended with a crash, but we are very keen to see as quick a recovery as soon as we can, so we can continue with his excellent progress.

"The race to a large extend was a huge success for the team, and in particular, Gil, who drove, I thought, one of his finest races, coming from behind, which took some very brave maneuvering, to put ourselves in a position to be a contender.

"Teamwork was excellent on both cars, and it was very encouraging to see the winter's hard work show the progress we have made. The final segment proved to be most important and our least competitive segment of the race, mainly due to tire/track conditions, but all in all, we felt we were competitive and we intend to continue to build on this."

Note: When he took the lead on Lap 64, Gil de Ferran became the only driver in the four-year history of FedEx Championship Series competition at Homestead to lead in every event.

Naoki Hattori will be allowed to return to competition

Derrick Walker - Team Owner:

"We look for a speedy recovery for Naoki. Currently, we are assessing when his return might be. As soon as he is able, we will begin ramping up his test program to enable him to get back to competition as soon as he is able. For the Motegi event, we will not add another driver in place of Naoki."

Naoki Hattori and Al Unser Jr, sustained injuries when they made contact heading into turn 2 on the first lap of CART's season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami on Sunday. Hattori suffered multiple fractures of his lower left leg and Unser broke his right ankle when they hit the wall between the first and second turns at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both drivers were awake and alert immediately after the accident; there was a lengthy caution period for the extrication; they were airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center, Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami at 2:45 p.m. and required surgery. Dr. James J. Hutson, M.D., Jr. Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery: "Mr. Naoki Hattori, 32, has a segmental fracture of his left tibia. The proximal fracture is six centimeters below the knee joint. The distal fracture is located at the midshaft. The fracture was aligned and stabilized with an Ilizarov fixator yesterday morning at 7:00 a.m. in a three-hour operation. Mr. Hattori will start physical rehabilitation to regain strength and function in his lower leg. The fixator will be in place for four to six months until the fractures are healed. He will be released from Jackson Memorial Hospital after the acute swelling and pain of the injury improves to start rehabilitation."

Dr. Stephen E. Olvey, M.D., Director, Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, University of Miami/ Jackson Memorial Medical Center: "Mr. Hattori was in good spirits and able to joke around after the surgery. He will be allowed to return to competition when it is safe to do so, and he is structurally sound to tolerate the stress of driving, as determined by Dr. Hudson and I. He is anxious to return as soon as possible, but the earliest would be four months. His rehabilitation will be in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he resides."

Cards may be sent to: Noaki Hattori c/o Walker Racing 4035 Championship Drive Indianapolis, IN 46268

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Naoki Hattori , Al Unser