It broke his heart to hear it.
But V8 Supercars star James Courtney has revealed his heart could have been crushed – literally – if he had defied doctor’s orders and contested Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
As expected, 2010 V8 champ Courtney was forced to withdraw on Wednesday from the great race.
He failed to recover from five broken ribs and a punctured lung suffered in a freak pitlane accident during August’s Sydney round.
Veteran Russell Ingall will take his Holden Racing Team (HRT) seat.
Courtney hopes to return to racing as soon as the Gold Coast 600 in a fortnight.
But Courtney was desperate to race at Mount Panorama in a bid to notch his maiden Bathurst title after missing last month’s Sandown 500.
Then the doctor explained the consequences.
“If I did have an accident … it would cause a rapid deflation of the lungs which squashes your heart and you’re not around any more,” Courtney said.
“It was best to sit it out … despite how much I wanted to get out there and get on with it.”
Still, Courtney couldn’t help kick cans over the injury sustained when hit by signage propelled by a low flying Navy helicopter in Sydney.
“It’s the race we all live for. It’s our grand final – I’m gutted,” Courtney said.
“To be taken out through no fault of my own is massively annoying.”
Courtney was confident of returning next round at the Gold Coast 600 from October 23.
He has tried to fast-track his recovery by undergoing surgery that has numbed the nerve endings around his tender ribs.
Courtney said his return date would depend on how his arm mobility and breathing had improved.
“The muscle was torn off the front of my rib cage. The cartilage was broken; ribs were pushed into my spine; muscles on my back were smashed – there was quite a bit of trauma,” he said.
“But Gold Coast is the target.”
Courtney said he had received an apology from the Navy but had not heard more on its joint investigation with V8 Supercars into the bizarre Sydney accident.
“That’s the hardest part. It was some outside force – that’s what makes this harder to swallow. We will see what happens (with the investigation),” he said.
Courtney will remain in Bathurst for Sunday’s 161-lap epic race to support his HRT team.
Ingall came out of an eight-month retirement to also replace Courtney at last month’s Sandown 500, nabbing a surprise top-10 placing.
“He did a great job at Sandown,” Courtney said of Ingall’s shock result.
“I don’t know how happy I will be if he wins the thing on Sunday, though.”