Da Matta remains in intensive care with head injury

Published August 5, 2006

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Champ Car driver Cristiano da Matta remained in intensive care with a serious head injury Friday, a day after his race car collided with a deer that had wandered onto the track during a test session at Road America.

Champ Car series spokesman Eric Mauk said the driver was in the intensive care unit at Theda Clark Memorial Hospital in Neenah, where he was airlifted to and had surgery to remove a ruptured blood vessel in his head.

Road America media director Julie Sebranek said she had never heard of a similar incident at the track.

"The race track has been here for 50 years. It's highly, highly unusual," Sebranek said Friday.

An 8-foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire circles the 628-acre property, which is surrounded by wooded terrain and farm fields.

When asked how the deer got onto the property, Sebranek said: "They have been known to jump the 8-foot fences.

"It's just a freak thing and we just maintain the property as we do on a daily basis," she added.

Da Matta, 32, has 12 career Champ Car victories - including four straight wins in his championship season of 2002, tying a series record.

A native of Brazil, da Matta left Champ Car after winning the championship and drove for the Toyota team in the elite Formula One series in 2003 and 2004. In 28 starts, he finished a career-best sixth in three races.

Alonso penalized for actions

Formula One champion Fernando Alonso was given a two-second penalty for today's qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix for "dangerous driving" in practice.

Alonso's chances of doing well in Sunday's race were damaged because he will probably be well back on the starting grid.

Alonso's incident Friday involved Robert Doornbos. Alonso had a hard time overtaking the Red Bull test driver, made a hand gesture while passing and appeared to squeeze Doornbos over.

Alonso then entered a turn and slowed down, forcing Doornbos to take avoiding action. He also passed a car under the yellow flag.

In Friday's practice, Alonso placed second with a time of 1 minute, 23.097 seconds. Michael Schumacher was eighth in 1:23.931 in his Ferrari

Today's first qualifying period has the six slowest drivers dropping out. A two-second penalty will make it difficult for Alonso to get past the first qualifying, dropping him to 21st.