Skoda driver Guy Wilks fractured his vertebrae in an accident during last weekend's Rally Italia-Sardegna. AUTOSPORT talked to the Briton before he flew back to England to begin his recovery.
Q. What happened?
Guy Wilks: The accident happened because of a mistake on the recce. On the first recce pass through the stage, we were following Kris Meeke; there were a couple of gates and Kris held one of the gates open for me, so we were stopping and starting a little bit, which is not the best on the recce. Then on the second pass of this section, I think we met another car or something like that.
I remember something distracted me. The road went from being wide open to medium narrow. When we came on the rally, we were on a full attack. We'd decided from the start of the stage that we would be pushing hard. We felt good in the car and we wanted to make a good start. We were definitely committed. I'm not sure what the right gear was for the left-hand corner, but it wasn't flat in sixth, which is what we had.
Q. Did you go straight off the road?
GW: Not straight off, no. We made it into the corner, but then ran out of road. We went down and I saw some bushes coming. For a split second, I thought: "This might be OK...". We had a lot of speed, but it looked as though we might just run into the field.
Unfortunately, as we flattened the bushes, we uncovered a couple of big rocks under the bushes. They were the only rocks in the field and we hit them. We hit them kind of halfway up the sump guard and it threw the car about 30 meters down the field. It's frustrating, this wasn't a driving mistake, it was a mistake made in the recce. But it's cost me a lot, obviously there's a personal injury and it's cost me points in the championship.
Q. How's the back today?
GW: It's OK. I'm traveling home, with a back brace on. It's not a screaming pain, it's more a dull pain in the bottom of the back. It's almost like the pain I had when I had a heavy landing after a really big jump in Finland a few years ago.
Q. Is this injury related to that one?
GW: No, I don't think so. That was more in the lumbar region.
Q. And you'll go straight to hospital when you get home?
GW: I'm going to see a specialist in Ipswich, somebody who has dealt with MotoGP accidents involving backs. I want to see what he says and then look at what we can do to speed up the recovery process.
Q. When do you think you'll be back?
GW: As soon as possible, sooner rather than later.
Q. Is Ypres possible?
GW: Everything is possible. But we have to see what the doctor says, first.
Q. This is a big disappointment though...
GW: Yes it is. OK, we were only seven or kilometers into the stage, but things were going really well. Phil [Pugh, co-driver] and I felt really comfortable in the car. We'd had a test before the event and, possibly for the first time, I felt we were really on it with the car. The car was doing exactly what I wanted and everything was good. We'd decided to push from the start and that's what we were doing.
It wasn't gung-ho or anything like that, we'd picked the pace up again after about four kilometers and then it just felt good. I've got to say a very big thanks to Skoda for building such a strong car and sorry to the team and everybody for what happened. It's one of those things. But, sure, this has been a massive disappointment for me and my pride. Now I know I'm OK with the injury, I need to get back in the car and start scoring some points as soon as possible.