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Da Matta to return to racing in 2008
Cristiano da Matta sat outside a Mill Valley cafe Tuesday, smiling in the morning sunshine. He was looking forward to a bike ride with some friends who included fellow race-car drivers Bruno Junqueira and Jan Heylen.

His unruly hair covered any evidence of the terrible injury he had suffered a year ago.

"I'm not sure if everything is 100 percent normal," da Matta said. "But I sure feel like I'm normal again. And that's good enough."

Just days after placing second at the 2006 San Jose Grand Prix, da Matta clung to life. He was in a freak accident in which his car struck a deer during a test session in Wisconsin. Doctors removed 40 percent of da Matta's skull in a frantic effort to save his life. Even then it wasn't clear if he would survive.

Yet here he was.

"I know I've been lucky," da Matta said, "and I'm very, very thankful for that."

There's another way to describe his stunning progress.

"I guess you can call it a miracle," Spanish driver Oriol Servia said. "It's amazing, considering how badly he got hurt. Nobody can believe it."

Now, da Matta hopes to take his recovery one more step: He wants to race again.

Next week he will undergo neurological testing that could give da Matta the green light to resume racing. That's why when he attends this weekend's San Jose race, he plans to do some networking to line up a ride for next season.

"I'm not a doctor, but I think I can do it," said da Matta, 33, a native of Brazil I’m not afraid to get back to racing. I mean, what's the possibility of a deer crossing the track in front of me again?" More at San Jose Mercury News

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