Sat 22 Apr, 2006 02:02 pm
'I was surprised to see I was in the stand,' says driver
By Catherine Woulfe and Miles Erwin
Spectators were showered with engine oil and hit by wreckage - but miraculously no one was seriously injured when an out-of-control race car flew over a safety fence and landed metres from the crowd at Pukekohe yesterday.
The driver, Aucklander Dean Fulford, and dozens of spectators defied death as the Porsche GT3 disintegrated after colliding with another race car at 160km/h. The one-tonne Porsche barrel-rolled for about 80m before clearing a 3.5m-high safety fence, ending up just a few metres from shocked race fans.
Fulford, 35, was unhurt but was taken to Middlemore hospital where last night he was in shock after the terrifying accident. "I could only tell I was in the air when my head was on the roof," he told the Herald on Sunday. "When they got me out of the car I was surprised to see I was in the grandstand."
Fulford waved to the crowd as he was stretchered from the scene and spectators "applauded him for the show he put on", said one witness.
Others were left shaken. "I pushed my daughter out of the way. She went one way and I went the other. People ducked for cover," said one man.
Palmerston North man Bruce Robertson said one spectator was hit on the back by a flying door despite having been behind the crowd-control fence. "He was fine, he sort of ducked and it came down on his back."
Mr Robertson said another man hit by the door suffered only a cut thumb.
"Some of the spectators were showered in oil - the engine must have burst. Things happen so quickly, you don't have time to get out of the road, do you?"
The crash - which happened during a support race in the V8 Supercar series round at Pukekohe - again turned the spotlight on spectator safety at race events.
Motorsport New Zealand president Steven Kennedy said "the steel cable and mesh net fence caught the car as intended". He said a "potentially serious accident" was averted "thanks to the effectiveness of the safety systems at the circuit and the Porsche GT3's roll-cage".
But by the time the car came to rest, he said, it was "probably only just a couple of metres" from spectators. The car landed in a "dead area" between the crash fence and a steel crowd-control fence. "No spectators are allowed there - they're held back."
Mr Fulford said he remembered little of the crash, which happened after he was bumped from behind and lost control. "I didn't know what was happening - everything was all white."
When his wife Victoria saw the Herald on Sunday's photographs of the crash last night, she slumped to the floor in the hospital with her hands over her face. "Oh Dean, it looks like you were in a rollercoaster," she said.
Witnesses at the track told of watching the car land on top of the fence and teeter before crashing upside down on the other side. One witness saw "quite big bits... but light bits" of fibreglass debris flying off the car. "That was one of the biggest crashes I've ever seen at Pukekohe," the witness said. Racing was delayed for about an hour while spectators were cleared from the area. Last night, relieved he hadn't injured or killed anyone, Mr Fulford said he was going out to buy a Lotto ticket. His father-in-law, Terry Gibson, agreed. "We could do with a new car now."
Photos from the print version of above quoted paper (pages 1 - 3)
Consumer Reports had listed the Porsche Cayenne as one of the worst cars for number of defects per thousand units. (Followed closely by the HUMMER H2).
I wonder if that extends to their finely machined race cars?
I have nothing of value to to add so I thought Id just yank yer crank WAlter.