Connect with us

GT World Challenge Europe

Rigon Raring to Go After Spa Crash Injury Recovery

Davide Rigon “completely fine” heading into new season after recovery from back injury…

Photo: Ferrari

Davide Rigon says that he’s “completely fine” and raring to go racing after his recovery from an injury sustained in a major accident at last year’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

The Ferrari factory driver suffered a lower back injury — the exact details of which Ferrari has requested to keep private — after his Iron Lynx car picked up suspension damage from contact with Jack Aitken’s stranded Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo and struck the right-side tire barriers at the top of Raidillon.

Rigon was taken to hospital and discharged on the same day in a back brace, marking the start of a recovery period that would rule him out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the remaining Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS rounds after Spa.

The Italian made his first race appearance since the crash on the last weekend of October, driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 at Monza. He now feels ready to return to a full program of drives this year starting with a busy winter schedule.

Rigon forms part of an all-factory Risi Competizione GTD Pro lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and will also represent Rinaldi Racing in the Asian Le Mans Series, which consists of four races in February.

“Now I’m completely fine,” Rigon told Sportscar365 ahead of the new season.

“I did a karting test recently. With karting, it is so hard on the back for everything. Now I have to say that I completely trust my back and I’m completely fine.

“About the program for the year, I am completely fit now. I am training a lot. I didn’t have much holidays: I am just training at home every day, to try to get back in the best shape possible.

“Daytona is coming, and then we have Asian Le Mans. I try to be very fit like every year.

“I still don’t know my main championship for this year, but I would ask Ferrari that if there are some more races to do, I would like to do them.”

The Spa crash occurred on July 31. Rigon then spent some time resting before entering a physical therapy plan to restore the muscle strength he had lost due to inaction.

Ferrari provided a doctor to monitor Rigon’s progress, and by the end of September he was back behind the wheel of the manufacturer’s racing simulators at Maranello.

“In the beginning, with the scan that we did in Spa just after the crash, it was not looking that bad,” he reflected.

“It was looking like I was able to do Le Mans. We were focused on that. Then when I came back to Italy I did one more scan and we saw that it was actually better to stay safe.

“If I wanted to risk it, we could have done Le Mans. But with Ferrari and all the doctors, we decided that it was more important to recover completely than come back in that moment.

“I did my best to come back as soon as possible, to recover.

“The most difficult part was after the crash [when] I needed to accept that I would stay home from Le Mans, which was my target [race] of the year.

“It was more painful to look at the race on TV from home, than the pain of my back.

“I had some pain, and it was not easy, especially after one month in September when I started to get back into the recovery to get the muscle back. It was not easy, but at the end of September I was back to the simulator with Ferrari.

“I started with the GT simulator and then the Formula 1 simulator, which is where I work a lot when I’m not racing.”

Rigon’s first track session in a real-world car occurred at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in October, when he helped to shake down a special edition model for a client.

At the same time, he and Ferrari looked at the possibility of a GT3 return at the end-of-year Kyalami 9 Hour, where he was set to replace Callum Ilott at AF Corse.

Before Kyalami was ultimately postponed to February, the decision was taken to enter an Italian GT race at Monza to see how Rigon felt returning to a competitive scenario.

The three-hour race went smoothly and served as a confidence booster for Rigon, who described having the “same feeling” he felt at the wheel before the Spa accident.

“I did the end of the race, so one hour and 10 minutes in the car,” he said.

“It was tricky conditions because we started in dry, but then it rained. In the end I lapped back; my teammates gave me the car one lap and 20 seconds behind the leader and I finished 50 seconds from the leader.

“I was happy that I did a good recovery. We finished P6 and I had a lot of fun.

“The only small pain that I had in that race was during the driver change. Jumping in the car, I had a slight pain, but driving was completely fine. And now I am doing a normal life.

“I was worried to feel pain and some issues with my back, and also to have lost a bit of speed. You never know. But actually I felt straight away in practice that I was there and ready.”

Rigon has praised the Ferrari medical team that helped him on his path to recovery.

All four drivers who were involved in the Spa accident have since returned to racing.

Kevin Estre and Franck Perera resumed their 2021 programs shortly afterward, while Aitken suffered a broken collarbone and a fractured L2 vertebra that ruled the Emil Frey driver out of several GTWC Europe events until his comeback at Barcelona in early October.

“I have to say thank you to Ferrari for giving me a super doctor to help me get back safe,” said Rigon.

“Ferrari was always in contact with me, and when I was returning to the simulator they asked if I was sure that I wanted to come.

“When I did the program, it was like normal – a tough day! But every time they asked me if I felt good to do it, and after that they took care of me. It is a big family to me.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

Click to comment
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

More in GT World Challenge Europe