McRae's injuries raise safety issue

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The Independent Online

Colin McRae is to have surgery on the cheek-bone he broke in a crash during the Corsica Rally, but is determined to resume his quest for a second world championship at San Remo later this month.

Colin McRae is to have surgery on the cheek-bone he broke in a crash during the Corsica Rally, but is determined to resume his quest for a second world championship at San Remo later this month.

The Scotsman will undergo surgery in Edinburgh when the swelling has gone down with Friday looking a likely day.

He also sustained severe bruising to his lungs and chest when his Ford Focus rolled down a ravine on Saturday. He was unconscious for 15 minutes and had to be cut from the wreckage. His co-driver, Nicky Grist, was virtually unscathed.

McRae was bolstered by news that his rivals for the title had been unable to take full advantage of his enforced retirement. The event was dominated by Peugeot's French pair, Gilles Panizzi and Francois Delecour, who were followed by Carlos Sainz (Ford), Richard Burns (Subaru) and Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot). The championship standings, with three rallies remaining, are Gronholm on 46 points followed by Burns on 44 and McRae two points behind.

McRae's father and manager, Jimmy, said yesterday: "When Colin heard the result he felt a lot better and was eager to drive at San Remo. He's still right up there, thanks to the two Peugeots. If everything goes all right with the operation I think he'll be there.

"He looks as if he's been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, but he's more annoyed he doesn't know why it happened. He shouldn't have any discomfort in the car from the cheek and his vision is OK. There may be slight damage to the eye socket."

Ford have urged the sport's governing body to improve safety measures following McRae's accident.

"I think the world rally championship should have its own team of paramedics on each event," said the Ford driver Carlos Sainz. "The same team of medical staff should be at every round and have a doctor in a helicopter on every single stage.

"There is a helicopter which is used on every stage to check spectators and I think the drivers should have the same safety considerations."

Ford's European director Martin Whitaker confirmed that the team would approach the FIA in an effort to safeguard the future of the sport.

"I will be speaking to the FIA about Colin's accident and I hope we can take things from it. The fact that Colin wasn't more seriously injured is a testament to the roll-cage and safety of the car."

* The Dutch Formula One driver Jos Verstappen is facing charges after fracturing a man's skull at a Belgian karting track in May. Verstappen was not in court on Monday for the opening of a hearing into a charge of assault, an offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

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