TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand has confirmed Chelsea Herbert is out of this year’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
Herbert has been forced to withdraw from the remaining rounds after a crash during Qualifying for Race 1 at Teretonga Park.
Herbert suffered a back injury as a result of contact with an earth-filled tyre wall. Herbert exited the pit lane as the Qualifying session began and lost control of her Toyota FT-60, veering to the right and off the track.
The session, which was supposed to run for 15 minutes, was brought to a halt and Herbert was subsequently extracted by fire and ambulance service crew.
She was later transferred to an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital for a precautionary examination. Herbert was conscious and responsive throughout the incident.
Initially, she was taken away complaining of back pain. Following a CT scan, it was confirmed Herbert had suffered a fractured vertebra. Surgery won’t be required, however, Herbert will stay in hospital for up to two more days.
“That was a fun experience while it lasted,” Herbert wrote on social media.
“Thanks for all your kind messages of support. Unfortunately, I’m out of action for the next 6-8 weeks with a fractured vertebra, following a crash leaving the pits for [Qualifying] yesterday morning.
“It could’ve been a lot worse. Hopefully I’ll be both back home in Auckland by the end of the week & walking with the support of a brace in a few days.”
Her father Mark Herbert said: “The whole of our team, the family, Chelsea’s sponsor MTF Finance and Toyota Gazoo Racing would like to acknowledge the medical and rescue teams for their efforts.”
Toyota executive Andrew Davis added: “We’re very disappointed to lose such a talented driver at this point of the championship and everyone wishes her all the best for a swift recovery and a return to the racing we know she loves.”
Herbert had a slow start to the season at Highlands Motorsport Park where she finished 17th in the first two races and 15th in the third. She had been quicker at Teretonga Park and was optimistic about her chances.
It was a tough week having my body adjust to it, but I’m sure over the next four weeks to come we’ll improve in terms of that area.
“I knew we’d be at the back, but I didn’t think we’d be that far back,” Herbert told velocitynews.co.nz at the first round.
“I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t closer to the back of the field. We were among a couple of people and my lap times we where I was hoping for by the end of the weekend.
“Although we’ve bridged the gap a little bit in terms of lap time my actual race craft wasn’t there. I think that was just down to physical fitness and fatigue.
“Hopefully at Invercargill, we can stay with them a little bit more. It’s a short track so I’m hoping to get up to speed as quickly as possible. I think it will be a little bit easier in terms of length.
“It’s going to be more of a crucial learning track so I’ll have to be more precise, but in terms of physicality, I don’t know how much harder it will be.
“I don’t want to be at the back of the pack for the whole season. Everyone is going to be improving with every round, so as long as I’m improving then that would be awesome.”
Herbert is the second driver to be ruled out of the championship following the departure of Amaury Cordeel. The Belgian driver suffered a crash at Highlands Motorsport Park and was duly diagnosed with concussion, which requires a minimum stand-down period.