Photo courtesy of IMSA

Castroneves involved in early incident at Petit Le Mans

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Team Penske’s return to sports car racing got off to a rough start in the opening minutes of the Motul Petit Le Mans, as polesitter Helio Castroneves was involved in an incident with Matteo Cressoni in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 in the opening hour.

With the race beginning on a wet track surface, Castroneves in his No. 6 Oreca 07 Gibson lost the lead to Tequila Patron ESM’s Pipo Derani on the first lap, but held down second through a flurry of pit stops as teams begin pitting for slick tires with the track drying very quickly.

After rejoining the race, still in second behind Derani, Castroneves was lapping the aforementioned Cressoni when the Ferrari driver broke loose entering the Turn 10 chicane.

Castroneves was an innocent victim as Cressoni subsequently spun into him, sending both drivers into the gravel.

However, even though he lost a lap getting removed from the gravel trap, Castroneves only sustained minor damage to the rear bodywork.

Team Penske immediately went to work replacing the damaged bodywork, and Castroneves was able to quickly rejoin the fight.

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.