Toyota’s Kazuki Nakajima has been ruled out of this weekend’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps after suffering a fractured vertebra in a heavy accident in Thursday’s opening practice session.
The Japanese driver checked up and slammed his No. 1 Toyota TS040 Hybrid into the rear of the No. 8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Oliver Jarvis at Les Combes in the rain-soaked and visibility challenged session.
Nakajima was transported to a hospital in Verviers, where he was diagnosed with the fracture. Per a statement from Toyota, he will remain in the hospital for further treatment.
Audi’s Jarvis, meanwhile, was uninjured in the accident.
“First of all I want to say thanks to the race director Eduardo Freitas and his safety crew at the circuit as well as the doctors at the hospital here in Verviers who have taken great care of me,” Nakajima said.
“Everyone has been extremely professional and I know I am in safe hands. Unfortunately the x-ray shows a fracture in one of my vertebra.
“It’s unbelievably disappointing but there’s nothing I can do now; I will just focus on coming back as soon as possible.”
Nakajima said the treacherous conditions played a factor in the accident.
“There’s not much I can say about the accident,” he said. “I was on the straight and suddenly through the spray there was a car right in front of me; I had no time to react.”
Defending World Champions Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi will pilot the No. 1 Toyota without the use of a reserve driver this weekend.
The entry missed Free Practice 2 as the car underwent a monocoque change but is expected to be ready for tomorrow’s final practice session.
According to newly appointed Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Toshio Sato, no decision has been made on the timeframe for Nakajima’s return.
“It is too early to speak about the future; we will fully analyse the situation and the possibilities before making a decision,” Sato said. “Right now our priority is to make sure Kazuki is okay.”
“Looking at the video of the accident it is clear he had no chance; the visibility was very poor due to the spray and there was nothing Kazuki could do.”
Although not requiring a tub change, the No. 8 Audi also missed FP2 but will also be on track for Friday’s activities, which gets underway at 2 p.m. local.