RACING driver Mark Wakefield admits he feels lucky to have escaped without serious injury after a huge crash that destroyed his car during a race at Oulton Park on Saturday.

The Northwich ace ran wide while exiting a corner, and his machine slid into a tyre-wall after skidding across grass made wet by a heavy shower.

He was then hit twice from behind by rivals unable to swerve out of the way after the impact of his initial shunt propelled him back onto the tarmac.

The race was stopped immediately by officials and the Weaverham racer, who turned 20 on Tuesday, taken to the medical centre at his home circuit.

He emerged shortly afterwards, and applause broke out from those waiting nearby.

“It was scary, but I’m fine,” said Wakefield.

“I’ve got bruises from head to toe, and feel stiff, but there are no broken bones.

“It unfolded so quickly, in a blur really, and I couldn’t remember what had happened when people asked me.”

An on-board camera mounted inside his JCW-class car, which he races in the MINI Challenge UK, captured the incident in full.

Wakefield watched a replay after walking gingerly back to his team’s garage.

He said: “I didn’t know then that the car was a write-off, and had told the team I wanted to get back out for the second race later in the afternoon.

“If you watch the clip, the back end of the car twitches slightly on the road because it had just started to rain.

“I hit the kerb as I ran wide, but the grass was damp and it was like driving on ice.

“The car isn’t in my control after that, and I hit the wall.

“That wasn’t so bad because the cars are so well-built they can absorb an impact like that, but when another car drives into you at high-speed it’s not so nice!

“I feel lucky, for sure, and without the safety gear I have now I’d have been in serious trouble.”

Like many professionals, Wakefield wears a HANS (Head and Neck Support) device.

It is worn in conjunction with a traditional crash helmet, and is designed to protect a driver’s neck when a car stops suddenly from high-speed.

He added: “I had a big crash when I was younger and still racing go-karts, but it was nothing compared to this one.

“You’re in shock at first, and don’t realise fully what has happened.

“It was only when I tried to get back into the car later that it started to dawn on me – the adrenalin was wearing off and I couldn’t bend down properly.”

Northwich Guardian:

Mark Wakefield, from Weaverham, in action during the first MINI Challenge UK race at the Oulton Park Mini Festival on Saturday. Picture: Mike Lyne/MJL-Photos

He went to Leighton Hospital for further tests, including one to rule out a ruptured spleen.

Given the all-clear, he now hopes to recover in time for the season’s finale at Donington Park next month.

If fit, and assuming the car is repaired, then he could still finish as runner-up to newly-crowned champion Brett Smith.

After a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday morning, during which he set only the 15th fastest time in changing conditions, he had charged up the order to sixth before a spell behind the safety car.

However a first lap after the restart brought an early end to his involvement, and to the race, after the multi-car accident at Knickerbrook corner.

Wakefield added: “I hope this isn’t how my year ends, and I’d love to try and get back out for Donington – that’s my aim anyway.

“I’ll rest up now, and see what happens.

“Second place in the championship is still a realistic possibility, which is incredible when you think I’ve hardly scored a point in the past three rounds.

“I’d rather sign off by doing that if I can.”