Timo van der Marel, a Dutch rally driver with strong Australian ties, is lucky to be alive after a horror crash at the Autoglym Rally in Finland.
Timo is married to former Australian Rally Championship event-winning co-driver, Rebecca Smart (now van der Marel), and is the brother-in-law of top driver Ryan Smart.
Co-driving for Dutch driver Andre de Vries on the seven-stage, 116km competitive event, their Subaru Impreza WRX slide wide on stage six of the rally on an "easy right over crest", causing them to roll several times.
The car eventually stopped on its left hand side.
"The car immediately started to catch fire and the driver was able to crawl free, but he was in too much shock and pain to get Timo out," Rebecca told RallySport Magazine.
The R4 spec Subaru left the road over a crest and rolled multiple times.
"Timo was pulled free when a spectator cut his belts and pulled him unconscious through the roof.
"It was very obvious that the injuries sustained were serious, so within 10 minutes Timo was airlifted to Tempere University Hospital and the driver was transported by ambulance.
"I was only made aware of the accident once I finished SS7 and came to the final time control, whereby my team informed me of the accident," Rebecca added.
"The guys have had fantastic care and Timo was operated on yesterday (15th) for an open compound fracture of his right arm. He will remain in care until the neurologist clears him for travel, as he sustained small bleeds in his brain and lungs.
Timo and Rebecca van der Marel in action in their factory Opel.
"Once fit enough he will return to Holland where we will continue our plans to drive for Opel Netherlands in various events across Europe, hopefully starting next month at WRC Germany."
RallySport Magazine wishes both Timo and Andre all the best for a speedy recovery.
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