Dario Franchitti has been hospitalised after a huge accident at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston on Sunday. The accident, which also injured 14 spectators, comes nearly two years after fellow British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In both accidents the cars went airborne and into the catch fencing.
Franchitti's Ganassi car caught the back end of Takuma Sato at turn five on the final lap of the race and was sent upwards and slid along the fence before returning to the ground. Both cars scattered debris across the track, and the remaining competitors were forced to weave through the broken equipment under caution, as had been the case two years ago.
The driver, a three times winner of the Indianapolis 500, was removed from the car and taken to hospital where he has been examined and diagnosed as suffering from concussion, a fractured right ankle and a fractured vertebra. Franchitti will not require surgery, although he will be kept in hospital overnight.
With positions fixed at the moment of the accident, the race was won by Will Power, who had suffered a broken back in the crash at Las Vegas and admitted it was similar to that incident. "I just saw Dario's car and him sitting in it with a lot of damage, and yes, that's what it reminded me of," Power said. "I hate seeing that. We try to keep these cars on the ground."
Fellow driver Scott Dixon agreed. "The smells and the visuals, for me, and even talking to Will, you have the remnants of Vegas popping into your head with you coming around the corner and you can't drive through it because there's a field of debris," he said.
IndyCar is likely to investigate the crash thoroughly since, in the wake of Wheldon's death, extensive efforts were made to reduce the chances of the cars leaving the track and hitting the catch fencing. Wheldon, a two-times Indianapolis 500 winner, had been testing safety features on the designs for the 2012 season before he was killed and when the new chassis was launched it was given the prefix DW in his honour.
The spectators were believed to have been injured by a piece of the catch fencing that was knocked loose into the nearby grandstand, rather than parts of the car itself.
A statement from the race promoters read: "An IndyCar official and IndyCar driver, Dario Franchitti, along with two fans were transferred to an area hospital for evaluation. Eleven fans were additionally evaluated on site."
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk