BAIRD UNHURT AFTER HORROR HIGH-SPEED CRASH
19/4/2005 14:24 (Press Release) -
WPS Racing’s Craig Baird walked unhurt from a horror 220kmh crash that sent spectators ducking for cover in the second round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in New Zealand today.
Baird was racing at close to top speed down the main straight when he took evasive action to avoid the car of Jamie Whincup, who had thrown a cloud of dust across the straight after drifting off the track.
Baird checked his racing line, moving to the inside of the track alongside pit wall.
Fellow driver Paul Dumbrell, who was traveling behind Baird, also moved to the inside and made an apparent attempt to pass Baird.
He found no room to get through and nudged pit wall before clipping Baird’s car, turning around the Wright Patton Shakespeare-supported car 8.
Baird then traveled backwards down the straight and into the fencing around the Pukekohe horse racing track, which is inside the motor racing circuit.
Several track marshals and spectators alongside the fence were sent running for cover as debris rained around them.
Baird’s car then careered across the track and into another fence, with the twin impacts destroying the rear of his car.
A shaken Baird, who was in 12th position at the time of the accident, stepped out of the car to a rousing cheer from the shocked crowd.
“When you are in a situation like that you just have to hang on and hope that it’s not going to be too big,” said Baird, who required no medical treatment.
“I was going at over 200kmh and was just happy to get out of it.”
The car sustained major damage and it is doubtful whether it can be repaired.
The incident enraged team principal Craig Gore, who planned to seek legal redress for a situation he described as stupid.
“It was madness. Baird was taking evasive action to avoid another incident and Dumbrell tried to sneak down his inside. It was opportunistic, and I understand that, but it was a stupid move,” said Gore.
“I will apply to have his license removed as he seems to be there in all of these high-speed major accidents.”
Prior to the accident Baird’s team mate David Besnard was also forced out of the race after one of his tyres blew out and sent him spinning off the circuit and into a sand trap.
It ended a promising weekend for Besnard, who had great race pace but recorded two DNFs resulting from equipment failure.
“It was a good weekend in that we made some big gains and were passing a lot of cars,” said Besnard.
“But it showed again that we have to improve in qualifying because you can get in a lot of trouble at the back end of the field where the driving isn’t as good as it is at the pointy end.”
Meanwhile, in the day’s first race Baird put in a standout performance to finish just outside the top 10 after starting from the back row of the 32-car grid.
He climbed 19 places through the race to finish in 12th position.
It was a welcome turnaround following Saturday’s first race DNF resulting from the failure of a welding mount on his car’s front sway bar.
Besnard was looking good for a shot at a top 10 finish in the day’s first race after starting from 29th position on the grid.
But his charge effectively ended after Jason Bright attempted to recover from a spin, forcing a number of cars to run wide to avoid a collision.
It resulted in Besnard being shuffled back several places, where a few laps later he was turned around after a touch from Mark Winterbottom.
Besnard then broke the front splitter of his car and was forced into the pits. He returned to the track several laps down and finished the race in a disappointing 27th position.
Release Date: 17/04/2005