Rookie Supercars driver James Golding has walked away from a high-speed crash on the first lap of the Sandown 500.
The Volvo co-driver suffered a tyre puncture as he hurtled towards turn five on the notorious back straight at the Melbourne circuit, careering into the tyre wall.
The monster crash brought about a safety car before officials issued the first red flag and suspension in the 500-kilometre classic’s long history.
The straight usually has a 260kmh approach, with the 20-year-old development series driver hitting the barrier at 149kmh after being unable to turn out of harm’s way.
Golding was able to exit his Volvo and climb into the medical car to cheers from the Sandown crowd.
“I’m really lucky to still be here,” he said after returning to the team garage.
“That was a really big one. The biggest one I’ve ever had.
“It was really sudden. It happens so quick you couldn’t do anything.”
Golding is considered a Supercars rising star, having won a development series race earlier on Sunday.
But his first main series drive was memorable for the wrong reasons.
The crash had its origins in a small shunt with Holden Racing team’s Jack Perkins in the leadup to turn one from the grid.
The Volvo’s front right wheel collided with the Holden’s exhaust pipe, which also needed repairs once the race was stopped.
Golding discussed the impact over team radio with team boss Garry Rogers but Golding said the car felt fine and powered on.
Rogers said the deflating tyre would be investigated.
“We’ll get the evidence,” he said.
“What we do has an element of risk. We’ll get on with it, fix it and get to the next race.”
The turn is no stranger to huge crashes.
In 2005, Simon Wills flipped his Commodore several times on the fence after colliding in the same spot.
Will Davison and Michael Caruso’s tangle in 2010 sent them both to the fence, while Lee Holdsworth screamed into the same barrier at nearly 200kmh in 2014.