Indianapolis: Swiss racer Simona De Silvestro was hospitalized after suffering burns to both her hands in a fiery crash during a practice session for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
De Silvestro, who started 22nd and finished 14 last year in her Indy 500 debut, lost control between the third and fourth turns and the car slammed into the outer wall of the famed 2 1/2-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
The car soared into the air, flipped several times and struck a safety fence before landing, upside down and burning, in the fourth turn. Wreckage and parts of the track were ablaze and safety crew members helped lead De Silvestro away.
"The car is completely destroyed," HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins said. "That was our special car for here, which takes a lot of effort. We`ve got to get that sorted out and obviously she`s got to get her confidence back up.
"We`ve got our work cut out, but we`ll get on with it."
De Silvestro, 22, was awake and alert when transferred from the trackside medical center to Methodist Hospital with major burns on her right hand and minor ones on her left, injuries that could keep her from weekend time trials.
"She`s OK," Wiggins said. "She is shaken up a bit."
Mechanics are preparing a backup car that could be qualified by another racer this weekend if De Silvestro is unable to drive and moved to the back of the field if she is ready in time for the race.
"That`s something we`re evaluating, but I think we`re going to stick with Simona and hopefully try to get her back up to speed," Wiggins said.
The crash halted practice for 30 minutes as racers, frustrated by two prior days of rain, worked to prepare for Saturday`s pole qualifying and Sunday`s final time trials to fill the 33-car field for the May 29 race.
De Silvestro, ranked only 39th on the speed chart this month, reached a top speed of 222.192 mph in six laps before the crash. She ranks 11th in the IndyCar season driver`s standings with her best showing a fourth-place run in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.