June 11, 2012
High speed crash ... how the car ended up. Photo: Katie Bayes
A rally driver is recovering in hospital after his right leg was amputated following a serious crash at the Targa Rotorua rally in New Zealand yesterday.
The driver, understood to be ex-pat Kiwi Stuart Scoular, and co-driver Bret Scoular - who both live in Sydney - had to be cut from their Subaru Impreza after becoming trapped following the crash on Lake Arapuni Rd, near Putaruru, about 8.30am.
Waikato Hospital intensive care unit doctor John Torrance, who was also racing, worked hard to stabilise the driver so he could be flown to hospital.
Westpac helicopter pilot Loren Haisley said the driver suffered severe injuries to both lower legs and was transported in a critical condition.
The Waikato Times understands Mr Scoular's left leg was broken in the crash, while his right leg had to be amputated.
Dr Torrance said he helped out as best he could and his thoughts were with the families of the injured men.
"The emergency services were phenomenal.
"The fire brigade were truly amazing and so were the paramedics," he said.
"The whole system worked really well."
Motorsport New Zealand general manager Brian Budd said both men were in a stable condition last night.
He understood the men were originally from Tauranga.
Mr Budd said it wasn't yet clear why the car left the road "at speed" and crashed about 20 kilometres into the first stage of the rally.
"We won't know that until we've received the accident inspection report from the organisers," he said.
"We have got our people on the ground preparing reports on the incident and the sport will investigate once reports come through."
He said both drivers were experienced – having driven the race before – but "driver error" was most likely the cause.
However, they had taken the car for inspection by the sports technical team to make sure there weren't any faults.
Mr Budd said that stage of the rally was cancelled following the crash but racing continued once the road was cleared.
"It wasn't a serious enough incident to require the rally to be cancelled."
He didn't have concerns for the safety or regulations of the Targa rally.
He said crashes were a regular occurrence during rallies, but the seriousness of injury depended on the circumstances.
"It is a dangerous sport, but there are rules and regulations from the organisational point-of-view that reduced the risk, but in this sort of sport you can't eliminate all crashes.
"It's the same as bungy jumping – part of the appeal is that there's an element of risk I suppose."
However, cars were designed to reduce the risk of serious injury and just the other week a driver and co-driver walked away from a serious crash at the Otago rally with a few scrapes and bruises, Mr Budd said.