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BRITISH star Dan Wheldon has been killed in one of the most horrific motor racing crashes ever seen.
Wheldon – a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 – was competing for a special $5million prize at the IndyCar championship’s finale in Las Vegas.
Cars were running in packs at 220mph when two touched and spun, setting off a shocking chain reaction involving FIFTEEN drivers.
Wheldon’s car was launched into the air off the back of another, flipped and smashed into the catch fencing above the retaining wall in flames.
The 33-year-old Briton — from Emberton, Bucks, but based in Florida — was airlifted to University Medical Centre in Las Vegas as what was left of his Dallara-Honda was covered in tarpaulin.
But the father of two, who scored a spectacular triumph at this year’s Indy 500, could not be saved and was officially declared dead at 3pm local time.
HRT’s Vitantonio Liuzzi has been penalised by the Italian race stewards following his accident at the start of Sunday’s Monza race. Liuzzi receives a five-place grid penalty for the next round in Singapore.
He lost control of his car going into Turn One, before sliding on the grass and back on to the track at the chicane. Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, Vitaly Petrov’s Renault and Liuzzi’s own HRT all had to retire on the spot. After a post-race investigation, the stewards decided the Italian driver was at fault for the accident.
“I was really looking forward to my home race and, although I knew it was going to be tough, it all ended prematurely,” he said after the race. “I had a good start getting past both Virgins, Lotuses and Daniel Ricciardo but then I went for another overtaking manoeuvre and got closed out.
“That put me into the grass and once I was there I tried to slow down but completely lost control of the car and unfortunately hit other cars. I am really sorry for Petrov, Rosberg and the other drivers who were forced to retire because of this. Now it’s over but we are fighters and we have to look ahead to the next race.”