Japanese rider Daijiro Kato was still in a critical condition on Monday, a day after sustaining serious head, neck and chest injuries in a high-speed crash at the Japanese Grand Prix.
“He is still in a coma. Basically, there is no change from last night. He is getting round-the-clock treatment but he has not regained consciousness,” a Suzuka official said.
Kato was rushed by helicopter to an intensive care unit after medical staff had battled to get his heart beating again as he lay unconscious on the Suzuka track.
The 26-year-old slammed into a wall at just under 200 kph on approach to the chicane, completely writing off his Honda.
His condition was described as “life-threatening” by medical director Claudio Macchiagodena.
“Mr. Kato has severe injuries to his head, chest and neck. He is fighting for his life,” he told reporters.
“Only quick treatment from the Suzuka medical staff saved his life,” he added.
Italian Marco Melandri broke his ankle, nose and femur in another serious crash during practice on Friday.
MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, who completed a hat trick of Suzuka wins in the season-opening Grand Prix, described the 5.824-km circuit as “too dangerous” and promised to send a formal letter of complaint to race organizers.
Meanwhile, there was still confusion as to how Kato, who won the 250cc in 2001, lost control of his bike in the breaking zone before the chicane.
“There were no marks on the track,” said race director Paul Butler.
“We have reviewed the video evidence and frankly we are none the wiser as to what caused this very tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers go to Daijiro and his family.”
Fellow Japanese rider Toru Ukawa was just behind Kato when the accident happened.
“It looked like he might have made contact with another rider,” Ukawa said. “His bike just jack-knifed and flipped into the air.”
Kato, who had two second-place finishes last year after moving up from 250cc, was involved in a battle for fifth place when he crashed on the third of 21 laps.
His family, along with Honda staff and officials, kept an overnight vigil at the hospital on Sunday.
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