#50- Tetsuya Ota at Fuji Raceway
The crash of Tetsuya Ota during Round 2. of the JGTC (Japanese Grand Touring Championship) in 1998 will forever be remembered as a landmark crash that resulted in numerous changes to the sport.
During Round 2. of the JGTC at Fuji Speedway, the race was just about to get started and a parade lap was wrapping up with the safety car ready to exit the track . Prior to the race, it was raining immensely and visibility was severely limited. Following the parade lap, the safety car passed the starting line at 93 MPH then slowed to a crawl.
A Porsche 911 suddenly slowed to avoid hitting the safety car causing another following Porsche 911 to crash with one of those Porsche’s hitting a barrier. A Ferrari 355 Challenge Stradale driven by Tetsuya Ota also slowed down and entered into an aquaplane slide and swerved into the stuck Porsche, bursting into flames on impact.
The driver of the Porsche on fire escaped but Tetsuya Ota was stuck inside and couldn’t get out with fire licking at his face and temperatures touching close to 800 degrees. Fortunately for Ota, Shinichi Yamaji who drove for RE Amemiya jumped out of his RX-7, used a nearby fire extinguisher and helped extinguish the flames and dragged Ota out.
Ota survived his burns but lost the use of his arms. The race organizers were brought to court and several changes were brought to JGTC including having a doctor car ready at all times and having the safety car follow a strict speed driving during a parade lap.
Next: #49 Alfonso Fon de Portago at the Mille Miglia