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Chelsea Herbert: “Breaking my back was only a hurdle, not a road block”

New Zealand racing driver Chelsea Herbert has been putting the last few months to good use and is now ‘95%’ healed after her Castrol TRS crash at Teretonga Park back in January.

The popular racer (21) is now itching to get back behind the wheel and says she will take to the track stronger and more focussed than ever before. “The accident was unfortunate but it has had an overall positive impact on me as a driver,” she explained.” I am even more driven to prove to myself that I can do better and that I can come back stronger. Breaking my back was only a hurdle, not a road block.”

The nasty incident on the Teretonga main straight left Chelsea with compression fractures to her T11 and T12 vertebrae and out of a championship she was desperate to do well in. Now though, she’s fought back to near full fitness and used the lockdown and Covid-19 period to great effect. Training five days a week under the guidance of Alistair Wootten and continuing her physiotherapy, she is ahead of schedule on her recovery.

“The lockdown actually came as a blessing to my recovery as it allowed me to train at my own pace and not pressure myself to train as hard as the crew at the gym. I had lots of physio exercises which were based around strengthening up my core to help take care of my back. I’m still working away with rehab and building my training up at a safe and consistent pace. I currently feel as though I’m sitting at 95% and it’s only been five months since the injury including two wearing the back brace.”
With the end of the road to recovery ahead and the prospect of more motorsport on the horizon, Chelsea is keen to put the challenges on and off the track of 2020 behind her and make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.

“2020 for me, has been a year that has cemented the idea of ‘everything happens for a reason’ in my head, that’s been the biggest thing,” she added. “Although it’s definitely a year that we can all reflect on and learn lots from, it’s also a period that has reminded me to not take even the smallest things for granted.

“I’m totally focussed on being on the TRS grid when it forms up again, hopefully in early 2021 as normal. I am also unsure on how we will get on with funding through sponsorship but hopefully the NZ economy will continue to pick up and we will be able to approach companies which are able to get behind and support NZ drivers again.”

The newly focussed Herbert is also full of praise for those who helped her through the injury period, which of course coincided with the global and domestic upheaval of the pandemic.

“It’s very important for me to publicly thank all of those who have helped me through this,” she concluded. “My family and friends, my physical coach Al and my mental skills coach Kate from KFitness NZ. When it came to the less desirable moments, my dad and particularly my mum and my partner Matt were there with me every step of the way. Overall I want to say thanks to everyone who in some big or small way has helped me over the past few months including my MTF Finance family for continuing to support me, they have been a huge part of my motorsport journey to date. And all at Toyota NZ, they truly went out of their way to help myself and my family after the crash.

“Right now, I just want to get out and race.”

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