19 June 2020 22:30
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.
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.