CART Champion and ex-Formula One driver Alex Zanardi is in “extremely serious condition” in a hospital on Friday after crashing into a truck while competing in a handbike race in Italy. Zanardi was racing in the “Obiettivo tricolore” relay in Tuscany, Italy when he lost control of his bike on a downhill run and hit an oncoming truck.
Zanardi had both legs amputated in an accident on September 15, 2001, when he crashed at 200 mph at Lausitzring, Germany while taking part in a CART race. He recovered and has become a Paralympic champion. The racer also adapted to prosthetic legs and was back competing in the final race of the European Touring Car Championship at Monza in 2003 driving for BMW.
The 53-year-old athlete was airlifted to hospital in Siena where he underwent emergency surgery for serious head and facial injuries before being transferred to intensive care.
“Due to the serious head injury, the neurosurgery and facial intervention began shortly after 7 p.m. and ended shortly before 10 p.m.,” according to a hospital statement. “The patient was then transferred to intensive care. His condition is very serious.”
Mario Valentini, coach of the Italian Paracycling national team, told Corriere Della Sera newspaper, “Alex lost control of the handbike, rolled over twice and collided with a trailer truck. The collision was terrible.”