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Driver Credits Halo for Surviving Scary Airborne Super Formula Crash

Yuhi Sekiguchi's car landed upside down, but the driver was still able to exit the car without help.
YouTube/motorsport tv

Any racing incident that involves cars getting airborne is a harrowing one. Such a crash occurred in a Super Formula race last weekend, with one racer thanking modern safety improvements for sparing him from serious injury.

As reported by Motorsport.com, the crash was precipitated as Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson attempted to go around the outside of his teammate at turn 1 of Motegi. Lawson lost control on the edge of the track, spinning through the charging pack just seconds after the race start. With nowhere to go, drivers Yuhi Sekiguchi and Tadasuke Makino hit Lawson, with their cars spearing into the air. Both cars rolled before slamming back to Earth.

Sekiguchi landed upside down, but was able to exit the cockpit without help. He credited the halo cockpit device for his protection, allowing him to make it through the incident largely unscathed. “I hit my head, but it felt like the halo protected me,” Sekiguchi said, adding “Looking at the car now, the halo has a lot of damage. Without it, it might have been a dangerous situation.”

Makino, who got significantly more air, had to be airlifted to hospital, but escaped serious injury. Posting to Twitter, the Super GT champion indicated he left the hospital after overnight checks. Driver Nobuharu Matsushita was also caught up in the fray, ending up unharmed when his car hit the guardrail due to the chaos ahead.

Amazingly, Lawson’s team was able to repair his car during the red flag period. The mechanics rushed to swap out the broken rear wing and damaged suspension, allowing him to restart the race with a battered but functional car. He would eventually finish 13th, incurring a drive-through penalty for the repairs undertaken during the stoppage. “I’m so proud of the team for fixing the car like that,” Lawson said after the race. “It was amazing, to be honest. I’ve never seen so many people together working like that, it was really cool to watch.”

Open-wheel racing tends to present a greater risk of cars ramping into the air. These crashes can be hard to protect against. As much as roll hoops and halos help, there’s still the issue of drivers sustaining what essentially amounts to falling damage. While the cars have great crumple zones for head-on and side impacts, it’s hard to protect a driver when their car strikes the ground from height.

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Regardless, the safety gear did its job here, Lawson learned a valuable lesson about venturing too far off the circuit, and everyone involved will race again another day. That’s about as good a result as you can hope for after a horrible crash like this.

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