Harry Hayek’s first race weekend since a crash which left him in hospital for months with fractured vertebra will take place in V8 Touring Cars next weekend at Queensland Raceway.
He will pilot the Brad Jones Racing VE Commodore in Round 4 of the series in what is currently a one-off drive but marks a shift in focus to Supercars aspirations for the Sydneysider.
Hayek was laid up for several months after a high-speed crash in practice for Round 3 of the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship at Snetterton last year.
He has since been working in the family’s inner-city real estate firm and training in preparation for a return to racing.
In a deal arranged with the assistance of Mark Rundle, who Hayek linked with in his time with Team BRM in Australian Formula 4, the 20-year-old will drive the car which Jack Smith took to last year’s title.
“I’m super-pumped,” Hayek told Speedcafe.com.
“It all kind of happened last week so I’m making the return.
“I was over racing British Formula 3 and burst fractured my L1 vertebrae, then I spent about three months in hospital over there with intense rehabilitation.
“Once I was able to fly, I returned home and on my arrival I was diagnosed with a kidney disease.
“I was devastated, but with time, sacrifice and a lot of hard work, I have managed to heal my back and go into partial remission with my kidneys thanks to some very clever doctors.
“I’m very fortunate for Brad to give me the opportunity and also Mark Rundle, who’s helped organise the drive, and it’s a first time back racing, so really excited.
“It’s been a long time, I’ve missed it a lot.”
Hayek featured in the first season of the CAMS Payce Australian Formula 4 Championship in 2015 before venturing to Europe to race in British Formula 4.
He returned midway through 2016 when his team encountered financial difficulties and went on to win three races in the remaining four rounds of his home F4 championship.
A second stint in Europe was curtailed by the crash at Snetterton, and Hayek says that his focus is now on climbing the domestic ladder to Supercars.
“We thought we’d give it another crack in British F3 and things were looking up but it just didn’t quite kind of come together,” he explained.
“Then I had the massive crash so it was like someone was trying to tell me to not go back over.
“It’s tough overseas, the cracks are just so small to try and get an opportunity to sneak through, but it’s the journey that we enjoyed the most and now we’ll probably look to stay here in Australia and target the V8s.
“It’s tough over in England and I wouldn’t swap it for a thing but most of it’s just a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
“You’re racing or testing only five percent of the time and most of the time you’re by yourself, lonely, training, every day you’re just putting on the grind but you wouldn’t swap it for a thing.
“Now I’m back and I want to thank my medical team, personal trainer, physiotherapists, doctors, nurses, in Australia and the UK for everything they did, and my family and close friends for love and support.”
Smith is expected to return for the final round at The Bend Motorsport Park in late August.
Round 4 supports the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint at Queensland Raceway on July 20-22.