Paul Radisich fights back from major injury to drive TKR Ford Falcon.
February 12, 2007. Double World Touring Car Cup winner Paul Radisich says he’ll be on the grid in the Team Kiwi Racing Ford Falcon BF for the opening round of the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship at Adelaide next month. Radisich, who was badly hurt in a racing accident at Bathurst last October, was given the all-clear following a fitness camp in Queensland last week.
Also involved in the training session which involved Radisich doing extensive bike riding, swimming and sandhill climbing, were Ford Performance Racing drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards.
Speaking in Auckland today, Radisich said he had been pleased at how well he performed compared with the two younger men.
After the Bathurst crash – in which he had to be cut from the wrecked car after its steering broke and it hit an earth-filled tyre bank at the Caltex Chase – Radisich underwent extensive physiotherapy, including water aerobics, swimming to strengthen his chest and bike riding.
He said the HANZ safety device had prevented his neck from being broken in the crash but had transferred pressure to his sternum, breaking it.
He had been rolled into a ball in the wrecked car and had thought initially that he had broken his back. His rescue had been hampered by the fact that with his sternum broken he could not talk.
At today’s unveiling of the TKR Falcon, Radisich announced that he will drive the full 2007 V8 Supercar series, starting with the two daunting 250km races on the Adelaide City street circuit.
It’s a track and a race format that takes a heavy toll on drivers, but Radisich says he believes he will be up to its challenges, though he’d have been happier if he’d been able to do more testing than the two pre-Adelaide days allowed by Supercar rules.
Realistically he says he’d be happy with a top-10 finish for the round, and anything above that would be a bonus.
After the Bathurst crash, which left him with a broken breastbone (sternum) and a smashed left ankle, he admits he heads into the first race with a little trepidation: the first laps will be taken “gingerly.”
He’ll also have to adapt his driving style – previously he had relied heavily on left-foot braking which is now not an option with his still niggling ankle. Radisich says the bones in his foot were shattered and there are still loose fragments that will have to be removed surgically.
He is adamant that TKR has a car capable of winning races this year, and says he regards the deal to drive the ex-Jason Bright ProDrive built and developed car as “the best ever.”
“If this hadn’t come along, I would have stopped driving. That’s how much I need a competitive car.”