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Eric Bernard's accident

In the final moments of Friday morning's free practice session at Suzuka Eric Bernard crashed heavily on the exit of the hairpin after the underpass. His Larrousse Lola went a little wide as he put the power down and it slid on to the kerbing. Earlier in the session Pierluigi Martini had done the same and had had a large accident. Eric's would be even larger. The car snapped to the right and crashed into the barriers, virtually head on. It was a massive impact with almost no deflection of the energy involved. The Lola stood up remarkably well.

"It was like a crash test," explained Larrousse team manager Frederic Dhainault. "As he saw the wall coming at him, Eric braced himself with one foot on the foot rest and the other on the brake pedal. The impact snapped the bones in his left leg. It is incredible. The impact was so big that the monocoque of the car is destroyed at the back, because the engine was pushed forward and broke the chassis."

When the car came to rest in the middle of the track Eric tried to climb out. He was clearly in pain and slumped back down in the cockpit. Team mate Aguri Suzuki, who was not far behind him, stopped to see what could be done and it was not long before Professor Sid Watkins arrived in the emergency medical car.

Eric was taken off to the circuit medical centre anf from there flew by hospital to Ekisaikai Hospital in Nagoya. He underwent surgery to set the fractures.

"The breaks are clean," said Prof. Watkins,"He has also cracked his kneecap, but he should be back in action in a couple of months. Certainly in time for next season."

In the meantime, Gerard Larrousse will have to find a stand-in for Eric for the Australian GP.

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