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17 Jun 2019 10:55
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  •   Home > News > International

    Billy Monger wins first race since losing both legs in racing accident two years ago

    Young racing driver Billy Monger survived a high-speed crash that cost him his legs. Two years on, he has won his first race in a single-seat racing car.

    Double-amputee racing driver Billy Monger has made history by securing his first race victory since having both legs amputated after a crash two years ago.

    Racing in the Euroformula Open series — a feeder series that allows young drivers experience on the pathway to Formula 1 — Monger surged from 11th on the grid to claim victory in wet conditions at the Pau Grand Prix in France.

    The 20-year-old had dropped to last place after pitting for wet-weather tyres early in the race — against the wishes of his race engineer.

    But it proved to be the right decision as Monger scythed through the field with his rivals struggling to grip with slick tyres.

    Making his way up to third spot midway through the race, Monger capitalised on a crash between race leaders Julian Hanses and Liam Lawson to take the lead and claim his historic victory.

    "Can't believe it," Monger wrote on Twitter.

    "I didn't think two years on I'd be winning races!"

    Monger was injured in a Formula 4 race at Britain's historic Donington Park circuit in April 2017, two weeks before his 18th birthday.

    The young driver, nicknamed Billy Whizz, crashed into the back of a stationary car at almost 200kph.

    Prior to December 2017, motorsport's governing body, the FIA, restricted disabled drivers from competing in single-seat cars due to safety concerns.

    But Monger challenged that ruling and, thanks to a specially modified Carlin car that Monger drives predominantly with his hands, was allowed to compete in Formula Three, finishing third on his debut in the class less than a year after his accident.

    "I hated being a spectator," Billy told the BBC in 2018.

    "Hopefully, one day I can become the first disabled driver to race in Formula 1."

    Monger went on to finish in sixth spot in the championship, moving to the Euroformula Open series this season due to the fact that the class uses the same cars as Formula Three did last season.

    Monger is not the first amputee to continue racing after suffering life-changing injuries, but is the first to do so in a single-seat, open-wheel racing car.

    Former Italian Formula One driver Alex Zanardi — who is now a five-time Paralympic hand cycling gold medallistreturned to motor racing after losing both his legs in a 2001 crash.

    But Zanardi competed in the World Touring Car Championship, not open-wheel, single-seat racing.

    Zanardi, a two-time CART champion prior to his accident, met and spoke to Monger shortly after his accident as part of a BBC documentary in 2017.

    Monger's story has struck a chord with many professional racers around the world, with a large number of current and former racers sending their congratulations after his success.

    Current F1 star George Russell joined former drivers Nick Heidfeld, Esteban Gutierrez and Martin Brundle in sending their congratulations to Monger on Twitter.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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