After his massive crash during Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, Robert Wickens underwent surgery on Monday night for spinal injuries sustained in the incident. This follows the confirmation from series officials and his team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, that Robert has broken both of his legs and his right arm as well as numerous other injuries.
Wickens was injured after an incident on the sixth lap of the race whilst battling for position with Ryan Hunter-Reay. The pair were side-by-side as they approached turn two of the superspeedway, with Wickens making front-wing contact with Hunter-Reay’s left-rear corner just as they entered the turn.
The contact pitched both drivers up into the outside wall, with Wickens’ #5 Honda riding over the top of Hunter-Reay’s car and onto the top of the barriers. The car then made a heavy impact with the catch-fencing, which threw debris everywhere and sent Wickens into a high-speed spin through the air and back across the race track.
Wickens’ car eventually came to rest on the exit of the corner, thankfully having been avoided by the rest of the field behind him. James Hinchcliffe, Pietro Fittipaldi and Takuma Sato were also eliminated from the race by the accident after being caught out by debris or each other, but thankfully all except Wickens escaped without injury.
After being extricated from his car by the AMR safety crew, Wickens – who was awake and alert throughout – was airlifted to the nearby Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment. It was later announced that he had broken both of his legs and his right arm and that he had also suffered a pulmonary contusion (a bruised lung). Earlier today, Wickens underwent an MRI scan to analyse additional spinal injuries he had obtained and to see what surgical process would be the most appropriate for his condition.
Late on Monday, an IndyCar press released stated that he would shortly be undergoing surgery for his spinal injuries and that “further updates will be provided when available.”
Robert’s friends and fellow competitors from IndyCar were quick to send wish him a quick and full recovery after the race on Sunday. His team-mate and good friend Hinchcliffe, after being released from the infield care centre, led the tributes, stating: “Obviously, I’m just hoping Robbie’s alright. Never good to see a car go up (into the fence) like that, but I know he is in good hands. Hopefully, we’ll see him back in the car soon.”
The eventual race winner, Alexander Rossi, also said that his thoughts were with Wickens and went on to add that “It’s tough to really celebrate after what happened.”
At such an early stage of Robert’s treatment, it is almost impossible to predict if and when Robert will return to the race-track. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, understandably, have yet to comment on whether Wickens will have a substitute driver for the remaining three races of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series.
Everyone here at The Checkered Flag wishes Robert a speedy recovery and we hope to see him back on track as soon as possible.
Update: 18:00 BST – Tuesday, August 21:
Verizon IndyCar Series officials released an update on Wickens’ operation that took place on Monday night. It was confirmed that Wickens had suffered a thoracic spinal fracture and that the operation had seen titanium rods and screws placed into his spine to stabilise the injury.
The operation took place with no complications and Wickens remains in a stable condition, according to the statement, which went on to explain that the severity of Robert’s spinal injury is impossible to predict right now. Further surgeries are expected to take place in the coming days and weeks to aid treatment to his broken legs and right arm.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports would confirm in their own statement that they would not be fielding the #6 Honda this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park with a substitute driver. It is not yet known if this will remain the case for the final two rounds at Portland and Sonoma.
As before, The Checkered Flag will publish any further updates as and when they become available.