Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 14:33 UK

Surtees' son killed in race crash

Henry Surtees (left) and Nigel Mansell
Henry Surtees (l) had his first F2 podium finish on Saturday

The son of motorsport legend John Surtees has been killed in a "freak" accident during a Formula Two (F2) race at Brands Hatch in Kent.

Henry Surtees, 18, was flown to the Royal London Hospital after he was struck by a wheel which flew off Jack Clarke's car.

His father, John, who won the Formula One World Championship in 1964, said Henry would be "deeply missed".

"Henry had followed his heart from the time he first sat in a kart," he added.

'Loving son'

Mr Surtees, of Surrey, who is the only man ever to have been world champion on two wheels as well as four, said: "He treated seriously the balance between motorsport and school, having just finished his A-levels.

"The world beckoned and he was thriving on the freedom to concentrate on his motorsport.

"Despite bad luck in his motorsport, he had shown himself to be one with the possibilities of reaching the very top."

He added: "Despite his young age he had shown maturity, technical understanding and speed.

"Most importantly he was a nice person and a loving son. He will be deeply missed."

Sunday's race was red-flagged while Surtees was removed from the scene.

The accident happened between the circuit's Westfield Bend and Sheene Curve.

Clarke's car hit a tyre wall and a wheel came off, hitting Henry Surtees on the head and knocking him unconscious.

'Dangers we face'

The teenager's car then struck the trackside barriers.

A spokeswoman for South East Coast Ambulance Service said Surtees had been taken from the scene by helicopter.

On Saturday, he had claimed his first F2 podium finish, coming third in the opening race of the Brands Hatch weekend.

World Touring Car driver Andy Priaulx, who was at the Kent race circuit on Sunday, said: "Our sport can be cruel, but never crueller than when it claims a life. It is a tragedy when this happens and yesterday we witnessed this at Brands Hatch.

"Henry Surtees was a fine young man on the verge of his career in the sport, who I had the pleasure to tutor when he was racing in Formula BMW.

"His death highlights the dangers that we face."

John Surtees

He added: "My heart goes out to his parents, Jane and John Surtees. John is one of my motor racing heroes who has achieved so much over his life in the sport.

"As a driver and also a father of a son who may one day want to follow my footsteps into the sport, it is hard to imagine coming to terms with such a loss."

'Freak accident'

David Croft, the BBC's Radio 5 Live motorsport correspondent, said it was "a freak, deeply tragic and horrible accident that can happen in what is a dangerous sport".

He said: "A few hundredths of a second later, Henry Surtees would have been fine.

"Sadly, he was coming up to the tyre right at the moment it bounced into the air.

"He was very much an up-and-coming star. Good things were expected of him."

No-one from Brands Hatch was available for comment.


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