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Norfolk based ex-Formula One driver could still lose leg as long recovery begins

PUBLISHED: 16:09 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:10 29 July 2019

Martin Donnelly is recovering after breaking his leg. Picture: Jonathan Lewis

Martin Donnelly is recovering after breaking his leg. Picture: Jonathan Lewis

Archant

A former Formula One racing driver is still at risk of losing his leg as he recovers from a freak accident.

Martin Donnelly is recovering after breaking his leg. Picture: Jonathan LewisMartin Donnelly is recovering after breaking his leg. Picture: Jonathan Lewis

Norfolk-based Martin Donnelly, 55, broke his leg while taking part in a charity moped ride across his home country of Ireland to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

He came off at about 20mph and his left leg was struck by one of the 16 riders following him, the same leg that was badly hurt 30 years ago in a career-ending smash.

He raced in Formula One for Arrows and Lotus in 1989 and 1990 respectively. But in September of the 1990 season during a practice session in Jerez, Spain, he crashed into a guard rail at 170mph and was thrown out of the car.

He broke both legs, fractured his skull, broke his nose, cheek bone, collar bone and punctured a lung.

Rik Makarem (right) with former Formula One racing driver Martin Donnelly. Picture: Norwich Theatre RoyalRik Makarem (right) with former Formula One racing driver Martin Donnelly. Picture: Norwich Theatre Royal

But after his latest accident, he is still at risk of losing his left leg as doctors wait to see if the cartilage will grow along the pins that have been put in.

Mr Donnelly said: "I have had to get up to the hospital for the specialists to look at my calf and the heat isn't helping.

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"But I have been able to get out and I went to the Silverstone Classic which was just what the doctor ordered, a bit of fresh air and sunshine.

F1 driver Martin Donnelly, February 1990. Picture: Archant LibraryF1 driver Martin Donnelly, February 1990. Picture: Archant Library

"When the infection started that was the beginning of my problems. I was on morphine, a drip and Paracetamol to try and stop the MRSA. We fought that but my leg and back came out in a rash which we then had to treat.

"I had an X-ray and now my leg is in a cast. We just have to wait and see if the bones can grow onto the plates."

His previous operations have left a lot of scar tissue, and his veins have been rerouted through his leg, complicating his recovery.

Now living in Besthorpe, near Attleborough, he works as an academy driving instructor at the Lotus factory in Hethel.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Mr Donnelly and his family while he is unable to work. It has raised more than £50,000, with donations received from across the Formula One world.

Mr Donnelly added: "It makes me appreciate what I have and the support. I have seen donations from the Schumachers and Toto Wolf, it makes me feel humble that they care so much to help me in my recovery."

To donate go to www.gofundme.com and search for Martin Donnelly.

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