Middleton back behind wheel just six weeks after accident

Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli didn’t bring the joyous return to race action Northumberland’s Stuart Middleton had hoped for during round two of the Italian GT Sprint Championship last weekend, with a best finish of sixth place for Imperiale Racing.
Stuart Middleton.Stuart Middleton.
Stuart Middleton.

Back on track just six weeks after sustaining a series of nasty injuries during the opening event of the 2022 campaign at Monza, after being hit by a car in the pits, and mere days since having a plaster cast removed from his left arm, the 22-year-old from Ashington battled hard.

Racing to a sixth place finish along with team-mate Alberto Di Folco in race one on Saturday evening at Misano, the Italian was set to start Sunday afternoon’s encounter from pole position but the No.6 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 ground to a halt shortly after heading from the pits to the grid – the result of a sensor failure on the engine.

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“I’m speechless to be honest”, said Lamborghini GT3 Junior Programme racer Middleton, “In terms of the championship, that’s near enough impossible now. At the end of the day, though, we’ll crack on when the season resumes and achieve the very best results we can. We’ll be going for nothing other than wins, we have nothing to lose.”

After testing at the beginning of last week to prove his fitness to return to race action, having suffered fractures, dislocations and ligament damage following the pitlane incident at Monza, the British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star enjoyed productive preparation for the Misano weekend.

“It’s such an annoying thing to have gone wrong with the sensor, but nothing anyone at the team could have done as the car fired up fine when it was checked before going out to the grid”, explained Middleton, “The engine couldn’t read the RPM so it shut off completely, and nothing we could do to get it re-started – hard lines!

“In terms of my injuries this weekend, it wasn’t too bad. Misano is quite a physical track, though, with the slow speed corners and so I had to fight and hustle the car a bit. After free practice I was a bit sore, I had to compensate but got through it OK.”

He added: “We’ve got a big gap now in the calendar, so I can recover fully before the next round at Imola, and we’ll be at Goodwood for the Festival of Speed.”