DISASTER AT DONINGTON FOR BIRD Sam Bird, 19, Claygate, Surrey, suffered his worst experience in his first season of Formula Renault UK at Donington this weekend. Having been 1st and 2nd in free practice on Friday, he was rightfully ...
DISASTER AT DONINGTON FOR BIRD
Sam Bird, 19, Claygate, Surrey, suffered his worst experience in his first season of Formula Renault UK at Donington this weekend. Having been 1st and 2nd in free practice on Friday, he was rightfully looking forward to a strong qualifying and racing programme.
Following his two wins in as many meetings, Sam was looking forward to another great weekend -- in the event, he achieved a 3rd and 4th for the two races -- two second row starts -- an excellent achievement again for a rookie in the series.
On Sunday, the first race was early, at 9.10am and the weather was good. From 3rd on the grid, Sam had high hopes of adding to his excellent points tally, and was certainly on for a podium finish.
On the warm up lap, one of his driveshafts broke!
Sam was pushed into the pits while his competitors completed their warm up lap and took their places on the grid. The Fortec team rallied round and did their utmost to replace the driveshaft in time for him to take part in the race. In the event, he was able to start from the pitlane, but some 10/15 seconds after the rest of the pack had cleared that area. Coming from position 26, therefore, and at least 10/15 seconds behind the slowest car, he just had too much to do to get a decent position, However, he had the pace and set at least four fastest laps of the race, overtaking several cars to finish a creditable 19th.
On to race two, the plan, from fourth on the grid, was to try for a podium place but certainly consolidate his fourth position. However, a charging driver, from behind had other ideas! Whacking Sam firmly on the side, he was sent spinning at around 120mph into the tyre wall. The car, designed to disintegrate on impact, did just that, leaving at least three piles of debris on the grass. The engine was in one spot, various parts of the car all over the place, while the tub containing Sam remained intact and he was able to get out unaided. However, the impact had fractured his kneecap and he was detained in the medical centre for some considerable time.
He now awaits the decision of specialists as to whether he can race again in two weeks' time at Snetterton.
The perpetrator of the incident had his licence endorsed by four points (after other misdemeanours, this leaves him only 1 point before he loses the licence for the remainder of 2006!) and excluded from the results of that race.
Sam is naturally disappointed at what seems like the end of his championship challenge, but, ever pragmatic, is determined to bounce back and continue his winning streak as soon as he is able.