Teen driver in Macau crash vows to return

Sophia Florsch lost control of her car (No. 25) going into the Lisboa bend, hitting Sho Tsuboi's vehicle before her car went airborne at the Macau Grand Prix circuit on Sunday. She suffered a spinal fracture but is not paralysed.
Sophia Florsch lost control of her car (No. 25) going into the Lisboa bend, hitting Sho Tsuboi's vehicle before her car went airborne at the Macau Grand Prix circuit on Sunday. She suffered a spinal fracture but is not paralysed.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Sophia Florsch lost control of her car (No. 25) going into the Lisboa bend, hitting Sho Tsuboi's vehicle before her car went airborne at the Macau Grand Prix circuit on Sunday. She suffered a spinal fracture but is not paralysed.
Sophia Florsch lost control of her car (No. 25) going into the Lisboa bend, hitting Sho Tsuboi's vehicle before her car went airborne at the Macau Grand Prix circuit on Sunday. She suffered a spinal fracture but is not paralysed.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HONG KONG • Teenage German Formula Three driver Sophia Florsch, who fractured her spine in an aerial crash at the Macau Grand Prix on Sunday, reassured fans yesterday that she was recovering well and vowed to return to the sport.

The 17-year-old's Van Amersfoort Racing car catapulted off the track and into a photographers' bunker while travelling at more than 275kmh.

"I'm going to come back," she said in a post on Facebook.

"I survived the operation which took 11 hours. Hope from now on it only gets better. I have to stay a few more days in Macau until I'm transportable."

Her team boss Frits van Amersfoort had told the BBC earlier that her surgery was successful.

"Everything is working and everything is in order... There's no fear of paralysis whatsoever."

Doctors said the surgery on Monday had taken much longer than expected because of the bone graft from her hip to fix the fracture and the need to set up neurological monitoring.

They added that she can move her limbs freely but is expected to remain in Macau's Conde S. Januario Hospital for a week or two.

Japanese driver Sho Tsuboi, whom Florsch hit before flying through the catch fencing, was also taken to hospital complaining of back pain. The organisers said in a statement the 23-year-old driver is fine and has been discharged.

Two photographers and one track marshal were also injured.

Jean Todt, president of the International Automobile Federation, motor racing's world governing body, has promised a full investigation.

Crashes are frequent at the Macau GP which this year, in its 65th edition, hosted six car and motorcycle races on the Guia Circuit.

The 6.2km track is dotted with long straights, where speeds of 275kmh are the norm, and tight, blind corners. As with most urban circuits, the roads are narrow and there are few safety exits.

Any driver losing control on a corner or chicane will almost certainly hit the barriers and those behind would find it close to impossible to avoid running into them.

Last year, British motorcyclist Daniel Hegarty died after hitting the safety barrier during a race, the eighth rider to have lost his life on that circuit since 1973.

Three motorcyclists were also taken to hospital last week, with Briton Andrew Dudgeon requiring a metal rod to be inserted into his spine after a crash in practice.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Teen driver in Macau crash vows to return'. Print Edition | Subscribe