Todd Hazelwood has praised Supercars safety upgrades made compulsory for the Wilson Security Sandown 500 after escaping a 260km/h crash uninjured.
The 21-year-old was tagged into a spin by Jonathon Webb at the end of the back straight in the co-driver sprint race, sending the CoolDrive Holden backwards into the tyre wall.
Hazelwood’s car flipped violently before coming to rest on its side. Able to extract himself from the wreckage, the South Aussie was cleared on any injury after a brief trip to the trackside medical centre.
While the Brad Jones Racing Commodore is expected to be withdrawn from the weekend due to the damage, Hazelwood immediately began preparing to return to action in his Dunlop Super2 Series Holden later this afternoon.
“I’m just devastated, I can’t believe what’s happened. We just wanted to get through that race,” said Hazelwood.
“We had a really nasty whack in the front-end [on the first lap], again I was just trying to avoid someone else’s carnage, and we had left-hand-down the whole race.
“I was pretty happy where we were, the pace was not too bad considering we were suffering in a straightline.
“The Nissan car got alongside of us, there was only a couple of laps to go and we were wounded, we were hurting for rear tyres, so I thought I’d just try and file in.
“I knew Jono was there and thought if I just hung where I was I’d be OK and then the next thing I just copped a massive whack in the left-rear.
“When you’re doing 260km/h across the top and get a whack like that you’re just a passenger.
“I just put my hands on my helmet and tried to relax when I hit the tyre wall. When I was going up in the air I thought ‘oh my God this is going to be huge’.
“First of all I’m just shattered for the whole crew at Brad Jones Racing, particularly Tim [Blanchard] and CoolDrive. I’m just shattered.
“The team has been doing a really good job and has been getting good momentum going into the weekend.
“For this to happen before the 500km race tomorrow, we’re not even in the main event yet, I’m just dejected.
“It’s not what I do. I’ve never wrecked a Supercar in my life and I’ve been racing them for a while now. I’m just shattered to be honest.
“I’ve been racing for 15 years now. Going backwards into that wall was the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
BJR had installed beefed-up leg protection in all three of its cars this weekend in-line with new regulations made compulsory for the event.
“My legs were just like a rag doll. It’s been put in for this weekend, so thankyou to Supercars for implementing that because without that I don’t know if I’d be standing upright as well as I am right now,” added Hazelwood.
“When I landed I thought ‘I’m going to be sore’ and I couldn’t believe once I unplugged the cool suit and radio and stood up, I was kind of laying down on the seat and trying to move my body around and thought I’m so lucky that I’m fit and could climb out of the car myself and get on with it.”
Drafting David Russell’s Nissan, Webb had drawn alongside Hazelwood when the incident occurred.
“There was a couple of cars in front of me. To be honest, I wasn’t trying to overtake them, they were just playing silly buggers and I ended up there,” said Webb
“You realise how slow the Nissan is in a straightline and I thought I’d give it a bit of a push along.
“By the time I got to the hill I just got caught up in all of the aero, grabbed a front brake and unfortunately grabbed Todd on the way through.”
Webb’s Holden made front-on contact with the tyre barriers, with the team now attempting a repair before tomorrow’s race.
“I feel bad for the boys and girls in the garage, they’ve obviously got a bit of work to do,” said Webb.
“Obviously we won’t be running this afternoon for Will, but we’ll see how we go tonight whether we put it away or whether we come play again tomorrow.”