By Laurel Stowell
When a 4x4 truck flipped nose over tail at the Suzuki Extreme Challenge in Turakina yesterday, the crowd roared in appreciation.
But when half an hour passed and the driver had still not emerged from his vehicle, people began to realise something was seriously wrong ...
The crowd grew quiet and people crowded around the truck. An extra ambulance and two fire trucks were called to the spot.
Track staff and another driver used a handsaw and mechanical device to cut off the roll cage on the side of the truck where driver Warren Jeffery sat injured.
The accident happened about 12.30pm, at the fourth obstacle in the fourth event of the challenge.
An eye witness said Mr Jeffery's home-built 4x4 was on a downward run when it rolled forward on to its roof cage and then back over on to its front. That was when the whiplash-like impact happened.
Rolling and spinning are common in 4x4 events, and the crowd initially gave a chorus of approval while the event announcer said he would give the two entrants time to sit in their truck and recover.
The witness said the crash didn't look serious: "I've seen far worse," he said.
Track volunteers and medical staff carefully lifted Kapiti Coast man Mr Jeffery from his truck and carried him up the bank on a stretcher, wearing a neck brace. He had suspected chest and back injuries.
He was taken to Whanganui Hospital, and a spokeswoman later that afternoon said he was in a stable condition.
His co-driver Mark Pincock was unhurt.
The challenge had another eight events, and the rest of the field carried on into the evening.