Andy Neate, who 18 months ago was involved in a horrific start line accident which left him in hospital for two months, has today been confirmed as one of the drivers for WSR in this year's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
35 year old, father to 2 children Neate has experience in the BTCC before, having entered a Vauxhall Astra Coupe in the season finale of 2005 at Brands Hatch, and took a single point with a 10th placed finish in the second race.
Andy has said that after his accident at Silverstone, that he'd never race a car again, “I did say I wouldn't race again but the BTCC is all I've ever wanted to be in since I started out. To me it's the best race series in the world. The person I really needed to ask permission from was Sarah and after visiting the doctors for assessments she said 'go for it'.”
Speaking about his accident, Andy said: “I basically suffered the same injury as the actor Christopher Reeve who played Superman. The only difference was my spinal cord didn't break away from the vertebrae. Really, when this happens, at best you're looking at terrible paralysis.
“When they reached me in the car I wasn't breathing and they had to do some emergency work to get my lungs going before they could move me. I was airlifted to hospital and the doctors told my wife, Sarah, to prepare for the worst.
“But somehow, I came through it. There were some very tough moments. Waking up and having no mobility. Losing three and a half stones when all you weigh in the first place is 12 stones is also quite a lot to take and for a long time I was a long way of any physical normality.
“But eventually my fitness, strength and sensations started to come back and now I'm ready to race again. I've still got a titanium plate in my neck which slightly limits my movement but that's about it.”
Before his accident, Andy had secured the 2006 Ford Fiesta title, and at that time, he was considered one of the brightest prospects in British motorsport, and now has been given a chance to build on that early promise with a drive in one of the 2009 Champion cars, the WSR Run BMW 320si.
Andy's preparations for the season have already been compromised due to the English weather, the rain at Thruxton on Friday before the test at Silverstone being snowed off. Andy then added: “It's the way it goes at this time of year. Every bit of seat time is valuable but we've got a few more days of testing planned before the season starts. It feels now that I'm back to where I should have been two years ago. The opportunity almost came up in 2008 but it didn't quite happen.
“To be with a team whose past drivers have included the likes of Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen is a very special feeling. Dick Bennetts who runs the show is just the best team boss I could wish for.
“I'm not going to make any grand predictions. The BTCC is as tough as it gets but I definitely want to be in the championship and with WSR for some years.”
Photo Credit: BTCC.net