Spectator killed at Nurburgring

A spectator was killed and two others injured at Saturday's opening round of the VLN championship at the Nurburgring when the Nissan GT-R GT3 of GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough left the track. In echoes of the infamous Mercedes crashes at Le Mans in 1999 and a similar incident with a Porsche GT1 at Road Atlanta the year before, Mardenborough's GT-R lifted from the track as it crested the jump at Flugplatz, flipping backwards and eventually coming to rest the spectator side of the catch fence. Although footage shows the car landing between the main catch fence and a secondary barrier the injured spectators were apparently in a legitimate viewing area.

Mardenborough appeared to climb out of the car unaided and after initial checks at the circuit medical centre was taken to hospital, along with a number of spectators, two of them apparently seriously hurt. One spectator died on the scene. Mardenborough was released from hospital yesterday, along with the injured spectators.

Mardenborough's NISMO team issued an initial statement after the crash saying "today's events have been a tragedy. We are all deeply shocked and saddened by these events and our immediate thoughts go to the deceased, those injured and their families and friends. The team is fully co-operating with the race organisers to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident." In a second statement confirming Mardenborough's release from hospital it said of the British driver "naturally he is very distressed about the outcome of yesterday's accident. Everyone at Nissan would like to again extend their deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased and to the spectators who were hurt. Nissan would also like to thank everyone for the support they have shown for the fans involved, the team and for Jann Mardenborough."

As for the cause of the accident NISMO says "the vehicle has been impounded by the German authorities and Nissan has offered full cooperation in their investigation." It's being reported that while this is being carried out GT3 cars (and others) will be banned from competing at the Nordschleife, with potentially serious implications for both VLN and the Nurburgring 24-hour if this remains in place permanently. To put that into perspective a third of the grid taking part in Saturday's race would no longer be eligible to race at the 'ring with 24-hour qualifying due to kick off in a matter of weeks. [Update: see here for the official statement from the German motorsport authority the Deutschen Motor Sport Bund]

With the MSA campaigning for increased spectator safety on stage rallies and a crash at last week's Goodwood Members' Meeting involving a Mercedes running into the back of a Lister in echoes of the horrific 1955 Le Mans accident, safety for spectators and drivers has, unfortunately, been forced once again to the top of the agenda.

Updates when we have them.

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Lead photo: LAT Photo (stock image)

[Sources: Motorsport.com; NISMO; VLN; DMSB via Google translate]