Shinichi Takagi will undergo surgery this Thursday after sustaining a fractured lumbar vertebrae and right wrist in an accident during Sunday’s Pirelli Super Taikyu Series 3 Hours of Okayama.
Takagi was driving the #888 Team Hirix Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 when he ran off course and crashed into the barriers at Hairpin Corner (Turn 5). Takagi was able to get out of the car under his own power, but after complaining of pain in his lower back and neck, he was transported from the circuit to nearby Okayama University Hospital for further evaluation.
The 50-year-old driver is expected to miss at least a month of racing while rehabilitating, which would rule him out for the final two races of the 2020 Autobacs Super GT Series, this weekend at Twin Ring Motegi on 7-8 November, and the season finale at Fuji Speedway, on 28-29 November.
“I can’t move right now, [but] please be assured that I am in good spirits,” Takagi said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “I will be having surgery on Thursday. I’ll let you know how things are going after the surgery when things settle down. I hope to be able to report back to you soon.”
“I’m really sorry for the worry and inconvenience this has caused you all. I will be working hard on my rehabilitation to get back on the track as soon as possible. I don’t mean to be selfish, but I will do my best to get back on track and see you all there.
“I hope you’ll be waiting for me!”
Takagi is the defending GT300 Champion in Super GT, and one of the series’ longest-tenured and most successful drivers – with two Drivers’ Championships (2002, 2019), 21 career victories (2nd all-time), 13 pole positions (T-1st all time), and 53 podiums in 176 career championship races.
Takagi and rookie co-driver Toshiki Oyu are currently ranked third in the GT300 Drivers’ Championship, scoring two podium finishes aboard their #55 ARTA Honda NSX GT3.
Autobacs Racing Team Aguri have yet to name a replacement driver for Takagi, who hasn’t been left off the entry list of a Super GT race since May 2000. Mercedes-AMG Team Hirix Racing will also need to appoint a driver to replace Takagi for the upcoming 5 Hours of Motegi on 22 November – assuming that their car can be repaired or replaced in time to take part in the event at all.
DSC sends its best wishes to Takagi for a full, swift recovery.
Feature image courtesy of Autobacs Racing Team Aguri