Terrifying scenes unfolded at the Austrian MotoGP on Sunday, after a collision between and Franco Morbidelli and Johann Zarco saw two unmanned motorcycles tossed through their air at high speed.
Legend of the sport Valentino Rossi will feel as though death has been cheated, as he zipped past two flailing bikes and avoided a sickening high-speed collision by a whisker.
The incident began as Morbidelli and Zarco saw a routine coming-together rapidly spiral out of control, as momentum on a difficult section of the circuit unseated both drivers at eye-watering speed.
Morbidelli was chasing Zarco on the fast run uphill to the tight T3 almost 90-degree right hander, when he hit the back of the Ducati after appearing to misjudge the Frenchman’s sweep across to the right to defend his position.
We have no idea how Rossi and Viñales avoided this, we’re just so thankful they did.
Morbidelli and Zarco tangle on the straight and crash out.
Both riders are up and walking.#AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/izLDfWq9aY
A horrifying series of events soon followed, after both men were sent hurtling off the circuit into the shale-lined area of the track perimeter.
Both motorbikes continued into spiralling turns, bounding down the track and into the path of fellow racers.
While Morbidelli’s Yamaha quickly crumpled and spread a shower of debris at the bend, Zarco’s Ducati remained full speed and upright until it caught the edge of the air barrier on the inside and was shot into the air and across the track right into the path of Rossi and fellow racers.
MotorGP icon Rossi was able to narrowly manage to swerve the bikes, as the whole grid remarkably also maintained focus and avoid hitting the stray vehicles.
All those involved around the race collectively held their breath, knowing the potentially fatal repercussions that could have followed the incident.
Thankfully, both Morbidelli and Zarco were seen getting to their feet after the collision, as medical staff quickly rushed to the scene with stretchers and supplies.
Fans watching at home were left with mouths agape, and quickly took to social media to try and make sense of what they had just witnessed.
One user named @BikerVick wrote: ‘Rossi definitely has someone looking over him. Wow. The look on his face in the garage – just absolute shock & fear – and who can blame him. A terrifying incident that could’ve been catastrophic. Lucky to see everyone walk away from that.’
‘I think he’ll announce his retirement tomorrow after that one,’ added another.