The 40-year-old auctioneer from Brighton had been erroneously reported as dead earlier in the day by various sources, including the general-secretary of the International Sidecar Association, Theo van Kempen, which prompted colleagues and officials to lay wreaths of flowers on the track where Prior had crashed.
However, the senior doctor at the hospital, the Mannheim University Clinic, where Prior was admitted after the crash, said last night that the rider was essentially being kept alive by a life-support system. 'He's in very, very bad condition,' Dr Michael Quintel said. 'There's very little hope that he will survive, but for the moment he is still alive.'
Prior was riding as a passenger with Yoshi Kumagaya, of Japan, when another team went off the Hockenheim track on the 14th circuit of the 16-lap event, then veered back on to the track. Prior was thrown off and hit a side rail. He was taken to the hospital, where he is in a coma with head and internal injuries.
Prior's crash raised new questions about safety in motor sports, but Rolf Steinhausen, the sidecar world champion, said people in the sport had worked hard in the past year to improve safety. He noted that the three other riders involved in Sunday's accident came out of it practically unscathed.
One of them, Christian Parzer, 32, of Austria, was also taken to hospital but released after his back injuries proved not to be serious.
'Simon, unfortunately, crashed into the guardrail and no one could prevent it,' Steinhausen said.
Giancarlo Falappa, the Italian superbike racer, remained gravely ill in hospital with head injuries after crashing on Saturday at the Albacete circuit, Spain, while practising for this weekend's World Championship race.Reuse content