Richard Lietz returns to action this weekend, less than seven weeks after his accident at Virginia International Raceway that sidelined the Porsche factory driver with a broken arm.
While having missed the final three rounds of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Austrian has still been on a quick road to recovery, aided by the fact that he did not need surgery to reset his arm.
After spending three weeks in a cast, followed by an additional week using a carbon brace, Lietz has been cleared to race in Sunday’s Six Hours of Fuji, where he’ll team with Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 91 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR.
“I’m feeling quite OK,” Lietz told Sportscar365. “I think it’s going to be alright, otherwise I would have not traveled so far to realize it will not work.
“Maybe there’s some little pain, not because of the bones still moving, but because the accident was not too long ago.
“It was a very quick recovery. Considering the time since the accident, what I’m able to do with my arm movement is not too bad.”
Lietz is thanking his lucky stars after being able to walk away without serious injury from his accident in practice at VIR in August.
His No. 911 Porsche was hit in the driver’s side door by the No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen, nearly ten seconds after being stationary.
If he had climbed out of the car during that time, it could have been a completely different situation.
“I think I was very lucky,” he said. “Of course there’s a new rule [in IMSA] that you’re not allowed to leave the car. It was introduced in Virginia.
“I’m just happy I didn’t try to get out of the car at the wrong time. It was eight or ten seconds after [my] crash that Jan hit me.
“That’s typically the time you need to say, ‘I crashed’ on the radio, then disconnect and get out. And if you have one foot out, it’s not so nice.”
Despite not driving a race car since his accident, Lietz feels up to the task, having completed numerous hours on the simulator for this weekend and in preparation for the remainder of the season.
He’s been drafted back into the Olaf Manthey-led factory squad for the final four FIA WEC races, effectively replacing Marco Holzer, who has been re-assigned to test and development driver status.
“WEC is where I’ve been the last couple of years and I’ve really enjoyed racing in this category,” said Lietz, who has four series class wins “With Joerg Bergmeister, I have a good teammate.
“I also like this series a lot because it’s all very familiar to me. It’s like coming home to me. I really enjoyed America but everything was new, but here, I really feel comfortable.”
While sitting a distant fourth in the GTE-Pro drivers’ championship, Lietz realizes the title is not likely in reach, although there’s no doubt he’d like to end the year on a high note.
“For the championship it doesn’t look too good so we’re looking for single events,” he said. “I think with all of the races to come like Bahrain and Shanghai and Sao Paulo, I think it’s good track for us.
“If we have some good racing and fight for the podium, that’s a good thing. If we’re just too slow, it doesn’t make too much fun. But I hope we’ll be able to fight for the podium.
“Definitely Joerg is motivated and I’m definitely motivated to help him to get some more points in the championship and to win some races.”