Canadian driver Robert Wickens, paralyzed in his legs since his accident in the IndyCar Series in 2018, will return to competition in 2022 in the Michelin Pilot Challenge in IMSA with the Bryan Herta Autosport team.
In May 2021, Wickens successfully tested a Hyundai Veloster N TCR using manual controls from the BHA stable. It was his first time driving a race car after 989 days of rehabilitation following an IndyCar crash that left him paralyzed in 2018. Wickens will return to competition when the season opener opens. IMPC season, a four-hour endurance race ahead of the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Wickens back to competition
« Today is a monumental day for us as a team and as Robert Wickens fans, » said BHA President Bryan Herta. « We followed Robert’s rehabilitation and marveled at his determination and dedication, as well as his many fans. »
“To announce now that he will be returning to professional motorsport in one of our Hyundai Elantra N TCR cars is truly incredible. We thank Hyundai for their incredible support and for helping us pave the way for Robert to get back to where it belongs. »
The #33 Hyundai Elantra N TCR was fitted with a custom manual control system designed by BHA Technical Director David Brown and Development Technician Jonathan Gormley. The system includes a metal ring connected to the brake pedal by a series of rods specially designed for the Elantra.
The ring is attached behind the steering wheel which is pulled with the fingers to activate the brake. Two linked throttle and gearshift paddles, all secured behind the steering wheel, allow the rider to accelerate, change gears and perform steering commands. The system also features a switch for Mark Wilkins when he takes control of the cockpit during pit stops that disables the hand throttle. The Elantra will accelerate and brake using traditional pedals when Wilkins is behind the wheel.
« I spent many nights thinking and dreaming about this moment, and with the support of Bryan Herta and Hyundai, it’s all coming true, » Wickens said. « I’m hungrier now than before my crash to compete for wins again! I’m really looking forward to integrating with the whole team at Bryan Herta Autosport and finally getting my first taste of the Hyundai Elantra. N TCR. »
It’s been a long, winding, and difficult road to this point and the journey is not over, but thankful we’ll be able to move down the road with a bit more speed!
Now, let’s go win. pic.twitter.com/hoPyoorJTO
—Robert Wickens (@robertwickens) January 14, 2022