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19 June 2020 22:30

Alex Zanardi

Alex Zanardi: Paralympic champion in hospital after ‘serious’ crash with ‘heavy vehicle’, police say

Alex Zanardi, the ex-Formula One driver-turned Paralympic champion who lost both legs in a motor racing accident 19 years ago, has been taken to hospital by helicopter after being involved in a serious accident. The 53-year-old Italian was airlifted to a hospital in Siena, with police confirming that he was involved in a "serious accident" with a "heavy vehicle". A Carabinieri police official in Montepulciano confirmed to the Associated Press that it was Zanardi involved in the accident, and that he believed the Italian was still alive. Zanardi, a two-time Champ Car champion and 41-race F1 driver, was competing in the 'Obiettivo tricolore' national road race for paralympic athletes on handbikes on Friday when the accident occurred. Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that Zanardi was travelling on Highway 146 between Pienza and San Quirico at the time of the crash.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Zanardi was descending down a hill when he lost control of his handbike and veered into oncoming traffic. Emergency services were able to attend the scene after his fellow competitors helped to raise the alarm of the accident. Zanardi won the 1997 and 1998 CART Championship, which earned him a return to F1 with Williams in 1999, but following a disappointing season that included 10 retirements he returned to American open-wheel racing the following year. However, Zanardi had both of his legs amputated following a horrific crash during the 2001 American Memorial CART race at Lausitzring in Germany, though in 2005 he was able to resume his motorsports career in World Touring Cars and the Blancpain Endurance Series thanks to modified hand-controlled vehicles. His finest sporting achievement came outside of motorsports though as he won four gold medals in handbike at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics.

Messages of support and concern were quick to emerge on Twitter, with 1978 F1 world champion and friend Mario Andretti expressing his grave concern for his fellow driver. "I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I'm holding my breath. Current Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi posted the praying emoji along with the message: "Forza Alex!" Alex Zanardi has been airlifted to hospital after being involved in a road accident, according to multiple reports in Italy. The ex-Formula 1 driver and two-time CART champion is reported to have been riding his handbike when the accident occured, and was then flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital. Le Scotte hospital in Siena confirmed to Reuters news agency that the 53-year-old Italian had been brought in to the facility on Friday evening.

According to the Italian news agency ANSA, Zanardi's accident involved a truck and happened on a state highway just outside the town of Pienza, near Siena. ALEX ZANARDI underwent emergency brain surgery in Italy after a serious accident on his handbike involving a lorry. The former Formula One driver suffered a double amputation of his legs after a terrible crash in 2001, before becoming a star Paralympian and win four-time gold medal winner. 5 Alex Zanardi was involved in a serious crash with a lorry in Italy and underwent emergency brain surgery Credit: AP:Associated Press Zanardi was taken to hospital via air ambulance after the crash near Pienza, near Siena, during a national race for Paralympic athletes on handbikes. He remains in a "very serious" condition after being taken to Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena.

A medical bulletin released by the hospital said: "The management of health informs that the neurosurgery and maxillofacial surgery began shortly afte 7pm and finished at 9.30pm. Italian national team coach Mario Valentini told Italian newspaper La Repubblica Florence: "It happened on a slightly downhill straightaway just before a slight curve in the road. "Alex veered slightly into the oncoming lane just when a truck came. 5 The motorsport legend was taken to hospital in Siena via air ambulance Credit: EPA The report added that Zanardi was conscious when paramedics arrived and that he was able to breathe unassisted. Valentini added: "Twenty minutes passed from the time of the accident to when the medical personnel arrived.

5 Zanardi was taken to hospital via air ambulance after the crash near Pienza Credit: Represented by ZUMA Press, Inc. 1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti tweeted: "I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I'm holding my breath. 5 Zanardi remains in a 'very serious' condition according to a bulletin from the hospital Credit: AP:Associated Press Zanardi won four gold medals in handbike at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. The 53-year-old lost both of his legs following a horrific crash during a 2001 CART race in Germany. At the time, Zanardi was a two-time CART champion who had recently returned from a second stint in Formula One. The crash occurred when Zanardi spun his car after a pit stop and he was hit by another driver. Zanardi was an established racing star before his accident and his accomplishments since transcend sports. An inspirational figure with an indomitable spirit, he designed his own prosthetics that he jokes made himself taller and also learned to walk again. Then Zanardi returned to racing in touring cars. After that came hand cycling, a class victory in the New York City Marathon and Paralympic glory. In January, Zanardi competed in the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race, driving in a race for the first time without prosthetics. We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and deliver personalized advertising on our sites, apps and newsletters and across the Internet based on your interests. FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 file photo, Alex Zanardi, of Italy, rides during the cycling portion of the Ironman World Championship Triathlon, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Race car driver turned Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi has been seriously injured again. Police tell The Associated Press that Zanardi was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Siena following a road accident near the Tuscan town of Pienza during a national race for Paralympic athletes on handbikes. The 53-year-old Zanardi had both of his legs amputated following a horrific crash during a 2001 CART race in Germany. He was a two-time CART champion. ROME (AP) — Alex Zanardi, the Italian race car champion who transitioned into a gold medalist Paralympian after losing both of his legs, was seriously injured in a handbike race on Friday. Zanardi was transported by helicopter to Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena following a crash near the Tuscan town of Pienza during a national race for Paralympic athletes, police told The Associated Press. A medical bulletin from the hospital said Zanardi underwent "a delicate neurosurgery operation" due to "severe cranial trauma." "His condition remains very serious," the hospital said. "It happened on a slightly downhill straightaway just before a slight curve in the road," national team coach Mario Valentini, who was following the race, told La Repubblica Florence. Repubblica said Zanardi remained conscious until medical personnel arrived, and that he was breathing by himself. "Twenty minutes passed from the time of the accident to when the medical personnel arrived. Valentini said he was not an eyewitness to the accident but arrived at the scene immediately afterward. We were 20 kilometers (12 miles) from (the finish line) in Montalcino," Valentini said. Racing great Mario Andretti tweeted, "I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I'm holding my breath. The 53-year-old Zanardi won two championships in CART In the United States before a brief move to Formula One. He returned to America and was racing in Germany in a CART event in 2001 when both of his legs were severed in a horrific accident the weekend after the Sept. CART raced only because the series was already in Germany at the time of the attacks and could not return to the U.S. During his recovery, Zanardi designed his own prosthetics — he jokes he made himself taller — and learned to walk again. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record. When he returned to the U.S. in 2019 to compete for BMW at the Rolex 24 of Daytona without his prosthetics, he was the most revered driver in a field that included F1 champion Fernando Alonso.