Last year, Robert Wickens got back into a race car for the first time since a horrifying 2018 accident that left him with a T4 spinal cord injury. Later this month, he will return to racing in a Hyundai prepared by the Bryan Herta Autosport team he tested with last Summer.
Wickens will race a Hyundai Elantra N TCR in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Cup championship, part of a six-car operation for the BHA team. He and fellow Canadian Mark Wilkins begin their season at Daytona, just two weeks from today.
To accommodate both Wickens and Wilkins, the Elantra N has been modified by the team with a system designed by BHA technical staffers David Brown and Jonathan Gormley. When Wickens is in the car, a metal ring behind the steering wheel will operate the brakes while paddles handle acceleration and shifting. When Wilkins is behind the wheel, he can hit a switch that deactivates those controls and returns management of the same systems to the pedals. Wickens and Wilkins joins the pairing of Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson in using a similar system. The hand controls were initially designed for Johnson, who has continued racing after a motorcycle crash left him partially paralyzed.
The return to racing is years in the making. Wickens has remained a staple in the IndyCar paddock throughout his recovery, continuing the impact he has created on the category since he took pole and led most of his first-ever race in the series. He has shared much of his recovery process with the public, including a 2019 conversation with Road & Track. Now, that process brings him back to the world of racing. The former DTM race winner, Formula 1 test driver, and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year is back behind the wheel of a race car.
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