Romanian youngster Raul Badiu faces a race against time to regain fitness for the FIA Junior WRC’s final round in Britain following a massive crash at Neste Rally Finland.
Badiu was airlifted to hospital after rolling his Ford Fiesta R2 in Friday morning’s first pass through the Äänekoski speed test. He suffered five broken ribs, a perforated lung, burst blood vessels in his eyes and concussion.
After being driven back to Romania by a friend as he was unable to fly, Badiu is recovering at home but knows the clock is ticking towards Wales Rally GB (3 - 6 October).
“I have told it normally takes six weeks for broken ribs to heal and Rally GB is in eight weeks. I’m confident I’m at least a ‘normal’ person so it should be better for Rally GB,” he said.
“I will definitely do the recce in Wales, but I’m really hoping to be fit enough to do the rally too as with double points there I could finish the championship in the top five.”
Badiu remembers little of the accident but has a clear understanding of the cause, which he put down to the pace of Finland’s roads.
Take a look at Raul Badiu's huge crash on the WRC Facebook page here.
“I wrote the crest down as a small crest in my pace notes. With my actual speed on the stage, the crest threw me a little wider than I anticipated, which put me on the looser surface and that’s when the crash started,” he explained.
“I have only two or three seconds of memory from the crash. Medics were starting to cut my balaclava while I was lying in my seat and I thought ‘oh, something strange is happening’ and then everything goes blank in my memory.
“The next thing I remember I was put on a bed and into a helicopter and the sun was shining in my face. I could feel a lot of wind as the helicopter took off, I began to rise and I thought ‘I must have died, I must be going to heaven’!”
Badiu paid tribute to the medics and marshals who treated him at the scene, hospital staff in Finland, the Junior WRC team and to family, friends and fans who sent messages of support.
Photographs courtesy of Anton Ahlberg.