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What happened to Robert Wickens as paraplegic star announces racing return?

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Robert Wickens has announced his return to front-line motorsport with a drive in IMSA but what actually happened to him? What injuries did he suffer in the accident that left him a paraplegic in 2018?

Things were going well for Robert Wickens in 2018 – his debut year in the IndyCar series for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport (the team that is now McLaren.)

He’d stuck it on pole for his series debut at St. Petersburg in the season-opener, and had claimed four podiums in a respectable campaign.

However at Pocono in August 2018, he suffered life-changing injuries in a vicious accident in the opening laps.

It left him a paraplegic.

After years of grueling physical work, Wickens has announced his comeback to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in 2022.

He will drive a Hyundai for Bryan Herta Autosport – Bryan being the father of current IndyCar megastar, Colton.

But what actually happened to Robert Wickens in the accident? How severe were his injuries?

Photo by Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What happened to Robert Wickens?

On lap six of the 200-lapper at the triangle Pocono circuit in August 2018, Wickens was racing side-by-side with Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport.

The right-front of Wickens’ machine clipped the left rear of Hunter-Reay, spitting Wickens into the catch-fencing placed on top of the SAFER barrier.

Wickens’ #6 car then viciously spun after hitting a post, throwing the survival cell of the cockpit back across the track, coming to rest on the inside of the track.

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The Canadian was extricated from the wreckage, and air-lifted to hospital.

The accident had left him a paraplegic – which means he suffered an injury to his spinal cord, leaving him unable to move his legs.

Despite this, Wickens has remained upbeat since the accident, often posting videos of himself on social media, training.

What other injuries did he suffer?

A couple of weeks after the accident, his family revealed the full extent of the injuries Wickens had suffered.

They included multiple fractures across his body: a thoracic spinal fracture, neck, legs, hands, right forearm, elbow and rib fractures as well as a spinal injury.

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Despite not being able to walk in the aftermath of the injury, Wickens has recovered to the extent that he can stand and walk with assistance.

However, he will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, such were the severity of the injuries he suffered at Pocono.

His single-seater career is over, owing to the tight confines of the cockpit.

The machinery he is to use in his comeback in the IMSA challenge will be equipped with hand controls to allow him to operate the car.

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