DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—The 52nd Tudor United SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona was stopped for 90 minutes after two drivers collided at high speed. Both drivers were conscious when they were removed from the automobiles.
Shortly after 5 p.m., three hours into the 24-hour race, Gainsco/Bob Stallings driver Memo Gidley collided with Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli, whose car was pulling to the side of the track with a a broken drive train.
Malleluci waqs exiting Turn Three while Gidley entered it on the wing of the #63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari driven by Alessandro Balzan. Gidley in the much faster DP pulled around the #63 Ferrari and found the almost motionless #62 Risi Ferrari right in front of him.
Possibly Gidley couldn’t see the slower Ferrari because of the angle of the setting sun, which would have been glaring right onto his windshield as he exited Turn Three.
Gidley’s #99 Riley-Corvette Daytona Prototype struck the #62 Ferrari at perhaps 135 mph, sending the Ferrari spinning backwards into the fence while Gidley’s DP spun into the infield.
Emergency crews were stationed only a few hundred yards away, so they reached the scene in seconds. Malleluci was removed first, while another rescue team cut the roof off the Gainsco car and slowly extracted Gidley.
[Accident Update: As of 2 a.m. Sunday Memo Gidley underwent surgery on his left arm and left leg and remains in Halifax Hospital.]
The race was red-flagged so that rescue workers wouldn’t be disturbed by passing cars.
Removing the cars, cleaning up the accident site and reorganizing the field took almost an hour after the drivers were sent to Halifax hospital.
Matteo Malucelli was able to talk and move his arms as he was carried to the ambulance. A rescue worker told a photographer Gidley might have leg injuries.
More information will be published as it is provided by the series.
“This stuff, it happens, it’s racing. But you never expect it to be your car, your team,” said Gidley teammate Darren Law according to AP. “We were running good. But the biggest concern is that Memo is Okay. They haven’t given us a whole lot of indication of what’s going on other than they are taking him to the hospital.”
Olivier Beretta, Malucelli’s teammate on the Risi Competizione team, saw a replay of the accident and wondered if glare played a role in the wreck.
“It’s difficult to say because it’s the sun going down, and in this corner you don’t see very well,” Beretta told AP. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. The most important thing right now is Matteo, the rest I don’t care. It’s just Matteo and the other driver.”