Former Indycar driver and F1 test driver Robert Wickens, who was left partially paralyzed after a near-fatal crash, will get back in a race car for the first time since his accident by racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Cup championship, the Canadian said on Friday.
Wickens will team up with compatriot Mark Wilkins driving a Hyundai prepared by Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) in the series season opener on 28 January, a four-hour endurance race that is part of the 24 Hours at Daytona race weekend.
“It’s been a long, winding and difficult road to this point and the journey is not over but (I’m) thankful we’ll be able to move down the road with a bit more speed,” said Wickens on Twitter. “Now, let’s go win.”
Wickens, once a test driver with the now-defunct Marussia team, in 2011, sustained devastating spinal injuries and multiple fractures to his arms and legs in a crash at Pocono Raceway in 2018 when his Dallara Indycar went airborne, catapulted into the catch-fencing and disintegrated across the track.
Very thankful for @BHA, @Hyundai, and @MikejRacing for letting me have a go in the car yesterday. Ride along with me for a few laps of a very wet @Mid_Ohio!@BryanHerta | @Hyundai_Global | @IMSA | @IndyCar
— Robert Wickens (@robertwickens) May 5, 2021
Herta: Today is a monumental day for us as a team and as fans of Robert Wickens
Wickens documents his incredible journey with informative videos on social media, winning the hearts of all motorsport fans as he embodied what it is to be among the bravest of the brave as he targeted a return to the sport that nearly robbed of his life.
The specially designed car he will now drive is fitted with a custom hand-control system and switch that deactivates the hand throttle when Wilkins takes over the cockpit.
“Today is a monumental day for us as a team and as fans of Robert Wickens,” said Bryan Herta, president of BHA in a statement. “We have followed along with Robert’s rehabilitation and marveled at his determination and dedication, along with his many, many fans.
“To now announce that he will be making his professional motorsports return in one of our Hyundai Elantra N TCR cars is truly incredible,” added Herta. (Reporting by Steve Keating)
It’s been a long, winding, and difficult road to this point and the journey is not over, but thankful we’ll be able to move down the road with a bit more speed!
Now, let’s go win. pic.twitter.com/hoPyoorJTO
— Robert Wickens (@robertwickens) January 14, 2022