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IRL Issues Statement on Fiery Crash

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 7 2010

Simona de Silvestro at Texas Motor Speedway before the crash. (IndyCar photo by Ron McQueeney)

By John Sturbin
Senior Writer

RacinToday.com

Fort Worth, Texas – Reacting to a round of criticism in the media, the Indy Racing League issued a statement Monday supporting the fire-fighting efforts of its Holmatro Safety Team in the aftermath of rookie Simona de Silvestro’s grinding crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

De Silvestro escaped serious injury, and burns, when she hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4 of the 1.5-mile quadoval on Lap 99 of the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550k. The right side of de Silvestro’s No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing entry was on fire as it slid to a stop. De Silvestro was struggling to exit the cockpit with its collar-brace intact when the Holmatro Safety Team arrived.

As the right side of de Silvestro’s car continued to burn from spilled oil, Safety Team members struggled with the brace and were slow in getting water on the fire.

Approximately two hours after conclusion of the race, an IRL spokesperson visited the press box to inform remaining media members that the team’s hose apparatus had failed, forcing workers to use their portable extinguisher tanks. No such announcement was made during the live telecast on VERSUS.

Once pulled from the wreckage, de Silvestro slumped against an inside pit wall before being taken to the infield care center. De Silvestro, a 21-year-old native of Switzerland, suffered a burn on her right hand while trying to escape.

“I just burned my hand a little bit,” said de Silvestro, wearing a white bandage on her hand and wrist but otherwise in good spirits. “It was pretty crazy. The fire wasn’t going away, it was getting worse and worse.” She did not publicly comment on the Safety Team’s performance.

However, the Safety Team’s response drew criticism during a pair of popular motorsports-related shows aired on the Speed Network Sunday night. That high-profile criticism apparently prompted the IRL _ sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series _ to issue the following statement regarding the response to the oil fire and de Silvestro’s crash:

“First and foremost, we make the safety of our competitors a priority when on the track. The primary hose on the series’ safety truck malfunctioned, so the safety team had to go to the backup of the bottles. All equipment is checked prior to going on-track before every race. We are examining why the hose malfunctioned to ensure this equipment failure will not happen again.

“Our Safety Team consists of approximately 24 highly-trained safety personnel with a minimum of 14 attending each event _ two trauma physicians, three paramedics and nine firefighters/EMTs. Team members have an average of 20 years of experience in their respective areas. The Safety Team is recognized for its high standards and high performance and this problem will be addressed.”

– John Sturbin, Senior Writer for RacinToday.com, contributed to this report

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 7 2010
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