The level of safety seen in modern race cars boggles my mind. During the Super Formula race at Suzuka, drivers Ukyo Sasahara and Hiroki Otsu collided and violently crashed into the barrier. Without any context or commentary, it would be easy to think the crash was fatal from the video. Thankfully, Sasahara's concussion is the only injury to come from it.
In the video, you can see Sasahara's green TOM'S car and Otsu's white Nakajima Racing car heading into Suzuka's infamous 130R corner. For those who aren't die-hard racing fans, 130R is one of the most dangerous corners of any circuit in the world. The left-hander is usually taken at speeds upward of 150 mph, so if cars spin and hit the barrier, they're hitting it hard.
After Sasahara and Otsu rubbed tires, both cars spun but Sasahara's car hit the absorbing barrier first, shredding through it as if it were tissue paper, and then hit the crash fence. It's hard to see what exactly happens next but, at some point, the car broke in half and was sent up in the air. The passenger cell, with Sasahara inside, reportedly went over the crash fence and rolled down the hill behind it, as the emergency crew could be seen tending to him at the bottom of the hill. The engine and gearbox half stayed on the inside of the fence. The fact that Sasahara only has a concussion after all of that carnage is nothing short of astonishing and a testament to the incredible safety technology in modern race cars.
Otsu's car was thankfully less damaged. It did flip onto its side but at least it avoided the crash fence and Otsu is said to be OK.
“In the early laps I passed several cars and it felt like I had the pace to go even further if I continued that way," said Otsu, according to Motorsport. "But while I was using the Overtake System I went side-by-side with another car, we made contact and crashed."
Sasahara was kept at a local hospital overnight but can leave as early as today. Due to the concussion, he won't be able to race in the Super Formula finale but I think the world is just happy he's OK.
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