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Racing to the rescue
8:00am Thu Nov 15, 2012
 
A Newark businessman risked his life to save a fellow racing driver who had crashed in a classic car Grand Prix in Azerbaijan.
Andrew Morris rounded a corner on lap five to see a car embedded in a crash barrier.

With its throttle jammed open at nearly 130mph, the March 761 driven by Abba Kogan, inventor of the original Space Invaders computer game, had crashed into a tyre wall, ramming the concrete behind and causing tyres to collapse onto him.

Another driver, Frank Lyons, pulled up and climbed on to the collapsed tyre wall to help Mr Kogan.

Mr Morris stopped his Lotus, driven in F1 by Johnny Herbert and Derek Warwick, and leapt out.

As he ran towards the March, a classic from the 1976 season, it burst into flames, sending Mr Lyons reeling.

Mr Morris, the owner of PA Freight hauliers on Farndon Road, said: “Abba had been saved by the tyre wall but it had collapsed on top of him.

“The engine was still running, driving the wheels.

“I knew it had to be bad and then the car was on fire. I thought Abba had to be dead, decapitated or at least have broken his neck.

“The marshals seemed shell-shocked and not properly prepared for something of this magnitude so Frank and I grabbed the hand-held fire extinguishers from our cars.

“There were a bunch of guys coming over but they weren’t wearing fire protection and the fire engine, we found out later, couldn’t get out of the pit lane.

“There was fuel everywhere and it was petrifying. Abba was sat on top of 60 litres of high-octane fuel.

“We were fighting the fire for 15 minutes as it kept breaking out. I looked down through the tyres and I could see his head moving six feet below me, I knew he was alive.

“I was looking at someone who was about to be burned to death in front of me.

“I managed to get his harness off and thought that his helmet was probably intact. I had to make a judgment. I had to go underneath the tyres and drag him out.

“We were maybe five to ten seconds away from losing him.”

Abba suffered burns to the back of his legs and his hand and has undergone skin grafts.

Mr Morris’s overalls and gloves were burned but he was unhurt.

Cars taking part in the race were mostly driven by private collectors at the invitation of the Azerbaijan government.

The 11/2-mile course took the drivers around the former Soviet municipal district in central Baku and to the edge of the Caspian Sea.

The race, which cost £100m to stage, was abandoned but will be held again next year. Mr Morris says he hopes to be on the starting grid.

It was being beamed live to a global TV audience of 600m.

Footage of the incident can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=fBDZrHI92fQ.

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