Race driver Jack Harvey’s dream first drive in the iconic Indianapolis 500 ended in heartbreak.
Harvey, 24, of Bassingham, who was given the chance to take part in the 101st running of the endurance race after two years in the motor racing wilderness, spun off the track after hitting debris on the 66th lap.
Despite the disappointment, Harvey said: “This has been the best experience of my life.
“The greatest spectacle in racing was everything I hoped it would be — and more.”
The 200-lap race over a 2.5-mile oval circuit in Indiana, US, was won by one of his Andretti Autosport teammates, Takuma Sato.
F1 star Fernando Alonso, who missed the Monaco Grand Prix to race with the Andretti team, led for long spells before retiring with engine failure on the 179th lap.
Harvey, who said it had been a dream to work with his childhood hero, Alonso, was caught up in debris left by Conor Daly’s crash into a wall.
“I was making great progress through the field and the car felt great,” he said.
“Something happened in turn three. There was a lot of debris on the track and the car hit the debris and spun.
“Everyone was slowing down quickly and trying to dodge the debris. I couldn’t stop the car from spinning.”
'It’s about as sour a moment as I can remember in my racing career'
Harvey, who was driving the Andretti Autosport 50 Honda, supported by Michael Shank Racing, said it was a disappointing end after qualifying in 27th place and climbing to 20th during the race.
“Everybody worked so hard to get here and to see the day end like that was heartbreaking,” he said.
“It’s about as sour a moment as I can remember in my racing career.
“I am so gutted for my guys at Michael Shank Racing. They have been so incredibly awesome all month. We all deserved a better day than that.”
Harvey, runner-up in the Indy Lights championship in 2014 and 2015 after switching to the US from his hopes of reaching F1, said sharing a garage with Alonso in the build-up to the race was more than he could have hoped for.
He thanked his family for their support.
“Thank you to my family and friends who supported me on this journey and especially to my partners who came on board to make this race happen for me,” he said.
Michael Shank Racing team owner Michael Shank said: “We were up to 20th on a restart, which was great.
“It was still early in the race and Jack was doing an excellent job.
“It’s extremely disappointing as what took us out was out of our control.
“To have that (crash debris) be the cause that ended our day is frustrating.
“I feel bad for Jack and the whole team who did so much work.”