BMW's Andy Priaulx Had Surgery, Sits Out Nurburgring & Imola
Shortly before the start of the Nürburgring 24 Hours (DE), Team BMW Motorsport received the positive news that everyone in the team was hoping for: The results following the operation, which forced Andy Priaulx (GB) to miss the 24-hour race and next weekend's ILMC race in Imola (IT), showed the lump removed along with part of his thyroid gland was benign.
This gives Team BMW Motorsport an additional boost on its quest to repeat last year's victory at the “Green Hell”. In this interview, Priaulx talks about his relieved feelings, his own future and the race at the Nürburgring.
Andy it is great news that you have been given the all clear health wise. Can you explain a bit more about your operation and how the problem was diagnosed?
Andy Priaulx: “I have regular medical check-ups, as for racing drivers being a hundred per cent fit is imperative. A few weeks before Le Mans I went to see Dr Vincenzo Tota in Italy, who gave me my usual clean bill of health. He also does x-rays during his tests, and it was on one of these that a lump showed up on my thyroid gland. Thanks to my consultant in Guernsey, Dr van den Bosch, I was booked in with one of the best surgeons in this field, Mr. Yiangou, whose job it was to take the lump out. This also entailed removing part of the thyroid gland. He was very careful to do this as low down as possible and not cut through the neck muscle. I can’t thank these two gentlemen enough for the professionalism they showed, and the speed with which they dealt with this situation. Me and my family always had full trust in their capabilities.”
What is the next step for you in terms of returning to full health?
Priaulx: “The important thing is for the wound itself to heal and also the same internally with the thyroid. Although I shall still have to wait a while for this before getting back to my usual daily fitness regime, I can still do some rehabilitation. For instance, despite only being back at home in Guernsey since Wednesday, I am already taking short walks along the cliffs near my home to get my cardio strength back. I’m doing better every day.”
When will you be back in your BMW M3 GT?
Priaulx: “I think there may be a slight difference of opinion between me and the medical staff as to when I shall be back on the race track. Let’s just say they are being conservative with their expectations and I am being very optimistic. I am sure we shall find the reality is somewhere in the middle of the two.”
Have you learnt any lessons from this?
Priaulx: “Yes. Your health is important and must never be taken for granted. I am in a lucky position to get regular tests as I have a fantastic support system in all areas. I did not feel ill at all and yet this was lurking there. Dr Tota has always given me a clean bill of health, and now this lump has been removed I shall be fitter than ever. Also I very soon realized how lucky I was to be part of the BMW Motorsport family. The time around Le Mans was difficult for me as I knew I would be having this operation a few days later, but in the team we were determined not to broadcast the news as I didn’t want any negativity to surround this great event. I cannot thank everyone in the team enough for the support they gave me. This helped me concentrate on the race and the end result was a great podium for us. Also a big thank you to my family, friends and fans for their messages of support. My wife, Jo, was by my side all the time and our parents were amazing in how they made sure we had nothing to worry about. As for my fellow drivers, beware the Andy Priaulx you next race against will be fitter and more determined than ever to win for BMW.”
What are your feelings about missing the Nürburgring 24 Hours?
Priaulx: “I am totally gutted. It is one of my favorite races on a magnificent circuit. I was proud when my name went up on that winners wall in 2005, and I wanted to stand on the top of the podium there again. Now I cheer on my fellow BMW drivers from afar. I want to wish all the drivers the best of luck. They did a great job to qualifying fourth and fifth in such a competitive field and I reckon another win for BMW is on the cards."