Sick of the Best: Driving through the pain barrier

A quick glance at riders and drivers who’ve kept going despite considerable physical discomfort.

Nothing could stop Sebastien Ogier in Mexico
© McKlein Image Database

Sebastien Ogier withdrawing from this weekend’s Fafe rallysprint in Portugal is just one example of drivers and riders on top motor sport events falling ill or getting injured. Here are some more examples from Formula One, WRC and Enduro…

1. Nelson Piquet in Rio

The Brazilian won his home Grand Prix at Rio de Janiero in 1982 but all was not well inside his Brabham’s cockpit. The sweltering heat had got to him and in the closing stages his head started lolling to one side round the bends. When he finally made it back to the pit lane it was clear he’d been sick inside his helmet. Then on the podium he collapsed into the arms of runners-up Keke Rosberg and Alain Prost. Just for good measure Piquet (and Rosberg) were both later excluded.

2. Colin McRae in Spain

The sensational Scot finished Rally Spain in 2002 driving with just his right hand – he’d broken a finger on his left in the rally before meaning he couldn’t hold the steering wheel with it. He still had to use the left hand to change gear, though, so his M-Sport team moved the lever across to the inside of his left-hand-drive Ford Focus’s door.

3. Jonny Walker at Hell’s Gate

The Enduro rider picked up a bug off his mechanic and duly suffered a cruel dose of the trots in February of this year while competing in Italy. He admitted to barely being able to ride his bike but still finished on the podium.

Jonny Walker makes it onto the podium in Italy
Jonny Walker makes it onto the podium in Italy© Jonty Edmunds / Red Bull Content Pool

4. Mohammed Balooshi at the Dakar

In last year’s Dakar Rally, the United Arab Emirates rider pretty much collapsed and needed oxygen to revive after struggling to cope with being 4700 metres above sea level on the Argentinean-Chile border.

5. Ayrton Senna in Sao Paulo

Ayrton Senna won his home Brazilian GP at Interlagos in 1991 but collapsed in his car on the slowing down lap with huge cramping pains – the legacy of having to drive a car short on gears in the closing laps and on slick tyres during a sudden rain shower. Despite the agony he still later stood on the podium for his fans.

6. Denis Giraudet in Finland

The factory Ford co-driver was in utter agony after badly damaging several vertebrae when his M-Sport Fiesta, driven by Evgeny Novikov, landed heavily over a jump on last year’s Rally Finland. Painkillers and padding (lots of padding) enabled him to continue as Novikov took it easy over the crests from there on. Giraudet has not returned to action since.