On May 3, 1998, during round 2 of the JGTC at Fuji Speedway, Testuya Ota was badly injured. There were 47,000 spectators in attendance for the 67 lap race. At the time of race there was torrential rain and visibility was limited. Following the parade lap, the safety car drove through the starting line at 150 km/h (93 mph) then suddenly slowed down. This caused 910 Racing’s Porsche 911 RSR driven by Tomohiko Sunako to aquaplane and strike the rear of Kaoru Hoshino’s 911 GT2. Of the GT300 cars, the third car in front of the Porsches (and 22nd on the grid),the BMW M3 of Yasushi Hitotsuyama, behind, managed to avoid the Porsche by driving onto the grass and then back to the circuit, while the Porsche struck a barrier and rested on the grass. A caution flag was waved out.
Seconds later, the Team Ferrari Club of Japan’s Ferrari F355 Challenge driven by Ota, slowed down, causing it to aquaplane and swerve left directly onto the Porsche. Both exploded into a fireball on impact. The Ferrari, after hitting the wall, slid across to the other side of the track and rested at the pit stop exit. Another Porsche swerved to avoid Ota.
Luckily, the driver of the blazing Porsche managed to stumble out of his car with a fractured right leg and was quickly attended to by rescue officials.
The RE Amemiya RX-7 driven by Shinichi Yamaji stopped in front of the Ferrari while the other cars drove on. Yamaji used a fire extinguisher from the side of the track to extinguish the fire and then helped to release Ota’s safety harness. He did this before race marshals arrived.
Ota was trapped in his car for almost 90 seconds while exposed to 800-degree temperatures and had to be dragged out of the car by a safety marshal. The marshal lay him on the ground which caused his semi-melted visor to sag onto his face. Ota attempted to get up, but fell. During his another attempt, another marshal spotted Ota, picked him up, and bundled him into the circuit’s minivan, rather than the ambulance.
Ota was taken to a hospital in Gotemba where he was treated for third-degree burns to his face and neck area and minor burns to the rest of the body. He was fortunate to survive. He required plastic surgery to the nasal area as a result of the visor melting on his face. He also suffered from intoxication from the fumes he inhaled from the fire.
As a result of his injuries, Ota was unable thereafter to move his right arm, right shoulder and fingers properly, causing an end to his professional race career.
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