The APRC Pacific Rally Cup campaign for the VTRacing team has ended early, with a significant back injury sustained at the Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie ruling out team driver Matt van Tuinen for the last round at the International Rally of Queensland.
Van Tuinen and co-driver Erin Kelly had started strongly in New Caledonia, setting 3rd fastest time on the opening stage held north-west of Noumea. But on the second test the Subaru Impreza suffered a heavy landing after one of the many jumps, causing a major problem for van Tuinen.
“Instantly I had massive pain in my spine,” said van Tuinen. “I tried to continue but it was not possible and we had to stop after about a kilometre and call for medical help”. “Obviously, that put us out for the rest of the event,” he added. “The car was damaged but driveable, and Erin was ok, but sadly I was in no state to continue.”
The VTRacing crew was not the only team to have problems at the same spot, with Bruce Fullerton, Brian Green and local driver Claude Clavel also coming to grief either at the jump itself or the corner beyond. After scans confirmed the serious fracture of a vertebra, van Tuinen underwent surgery in Noumea to stabilize the fracture.
The serious nature of the inury and the requirements of his rehabilitation means that van Tuinen will not be able to compete for several months. “I’m devastated to end my rally season this way,” he said. “We were looking forward to competing in our home event at Rally Queensland and also at the WRC event at Rally Australia, but unfortunately we have to miss both events.
” But the team is already planning the 2014 campaign, and with the support of the team sponsors: XMotion, Comtel, Telecoast, City Subaru, Winger Subaru, ZCar Racing & Hankook Tyres, VTRacing will be return bigger and better in the new year.
PHOTOS: Matt Van Tuinen and Hiro Somemiya