Paralyzed racer makes a comeback

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Almost four-years after a racing accident left IndyCar driver Robert Wickens paralyzed, he is making a comeback on the track with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai Motor North America. He will pilot the No. 33 Hyundai Elantra N TCR in the season-opening International Motor Sports Association Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Daytona International Speedway on January 28.

“I’ve spent a lot of nights thinking and dreaming of this moment, and with the support from Bryan Herta and Hyundai it is all becoming a reality,” said Wickens. “I am hungrier now than I was before my accident to compete for wins again!”

#54: Robert Wickens, Bryan Herta Autosport, Universal Coating, Hyundai Veloster N TCR

#54: Robert Wickens, Bryan Herta Autosport, Universal Coating, Hyundai Veloster N TCR

Wickens was paralyzed due to spinal injuries he sustained from a crash during the IndyCar ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 19, 2018. As an IndyCar rookie in 2018, Wickens came out of the gates quickly, winning the pole position in his debut race at the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of Year in 2018 after finishing ninth and leading two laps.

After 989 days of rehabilitation from the IndyCar accident Wickens will drive a heavily modified Hyundai N TCR using hand controls designed by the Herta team and featuring a custom steering wheel ring connected to the brake pedal through a series rods. The ring is attached behind the steering wheel and is pulled by the driver to activate the brakes. A pair of linked throttle pads and shift paddles, also attached behind the steering, allows Wickens to accelerate and shift gears.

#54: Robert Wickens, Bryan Herta Autosport, Universal Coating, Hyundai Veloster N TCR

#54: Robert Wickens, Bryan Herta Autosport, Universal Coating, Hyundai Veloster N TCR

The Hyundai will accelerate and brake with traditional pedals when Wicken’s teammate, Mark Wilkins, is in the car during endurance races.

“We have followed along with Robert’s rehabilitation and marveled at his determination and dedication, along with his many, many fans,” said Bryan Herta. “To now announce that he will be making his professional motorsports return in one of our Hyundai Elantra N TCR cars is truly incredible.”

This article, written by David Castro, was originally published on ClassicCars.com, an editorial partner of Motor Authority.

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