Six drivers from W Series undergo medical evaluation after massive crash at Spa

W Series crash Spa
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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Six drivers from the all-female W Series needed medical checks Friday, with two taken to hospital for further assessment, following a heavy crash during a qualifying session on the Spa-Francorchamps track in Belgium.

British drivers Sarah Moore and Abbie Eaton, Spain’s Belen Garcia, Beitske Visser of the Netherlands, Norwegian Ayla Agren, and Fabienne Wohlwend of Liechtenstein were in the crash that happened at the notorious Eau Rouge section of the 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) circuit.

Qualifying took place shortly after the end of the second practice session for Formula One’s Belgian Grand Prix on the same track.

“All drivers involved in the incident are undergoing medical assessment and two of the drivers – Ayla Agren and Beitske Visser – have been transferred to hospital for further checks,” the W Series tweeted. “Thank you for your support and well wishes during that qualifying session.”

The series later tweeted that Argen had been discharged, and Visser was in good spirits awaiting the results of a leg X-ray after a CT scan showed no injuries.

Visser later posted an update that she had no fractures from the crash,which started after two cars bounced off a tire wall.

Another approaching car flew backward into the back of the accident. One car flipped up in the air and speared the tire wall with its front nose after being pierced by another vehicle.

A sixth car following them lost control and slid to the right but avoided any contact with the others.

Qualifying resumed and defending champion Jamie Chadwick took pole position.

Several F1 drivers had trouble with grip in their practice sessions, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen both going off into the barriers.

Two years ago, French driver Anthoine Hubert was killed at Spa following a high-speed crash in a Formula Two race as drivers also accelerated uphill to Eau Rouge.

The 22-year-old Hubert, who raced for the British-owned Arden team, died after an estimated 160 mph (257 kph) collision with 20-year-old U.S. driver Juan-Manuel Correa, who sustained serious injuries and was induced into a coma.

Earlier this month, there was a serious crash at the track during the Spa 24 Hours with drivers Jack Aitken and Davide Rigon needing hospital treatment.

The W Series is in its second season after being going on hiauts in 2020 because of the pandemic. It is being showcased this year alongside eight Formula One races.

No female driver has competed in a F1 race since Lella Lombardi in 1976. Susie Wolff was the last woman to take part in an F1 weekend when she drove in a practice session for Williams at the British GP in 2015.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”