Ralf fit to race despite accident


Ralf Schumacher will be fit to race in Sunday's US Grand Prix despite crashing in Friday's practice in almost the same spot where he crashed in the 2004 race.

The incident, caused by a puncture, halted the session and the Toyota driver went to hospital for a check-up.

Ralf said: "Thankfully I am feeling OK but that was quite a big accident."

McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya was quickest in both practice sessions with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen second and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello third.

Toyota's Brazilian test driver Ricardo Zonta was second fastest in the morning with Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso third.

Montoya and Alonso have the disadvantage of qualifying early on Saturday.

Reigning world champion Michael Schumacher posted the fourth fastest time in the afternoon session.

Lightning is supposed not to strike twice in the same place, but I guess that does not apply to me
Ralf Schumacher

Briton David Coulthard was sixth fastest with a time of 1.12.076 for Red Bull while BAR's Jenson Button could only post the 15th fastest time in the afternoon.

Ralf Schumacher crashed at the banked final corner, the fastest section of the track, and his car spun, hit the wall and skidded across the track.

Richard Cregan, general manager of Toyota, said a sudden left tyre deflation led to the accident, as well as Toyota test driver Ricardo Zonta's practice shunt.

"Exactly the reasons for it, we're not sure yet," he said. "We're still trying to establish what happened, but certainly on both cases it's definitely tyre.

Last year he remained slumped in the cockpit and subsequent tests showed he had fractured his spine and he missed the next six races.

"Lightning is supposed not to strike twice the same place, but on this occasion I guess that does not apply to me," said Schumacher.

"I was approaching the last corner when I felt something go wrong on the left-hand side."

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