ELITE CLASS contender James Bergmuller will return to the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia this year – but don’t expect him to be running anywhere in the Porsche paddock.
The Melbournian snapped his left Achilles tendon in a water skiing crash during a holiday on New Year’s Eve and is today making his return to the driver’s seat at the official pre-season Porsche Carrera Cup test at Phillip Island.
Bergmuller’s Porsche Brighton 991 GT3 Cup Car is sporting a hand-operated clutch to enable him to get off the line – and the driver has had some additions to his race kit as well.
“I came off the Skis at about 50kph and it snapped the tendon,” he explained.
“I’ve had five stitches and only just got off the crutches last week. I’m in a moon boot outside of the car and in it I am wearing a special brace that allows me to drive.
“I’m sitting a bit uncomfortably in the car and I can’t put any weight on the left foot when I’m braking to brace myself, but other than that there’s no pain and the driving itself is fine.
“It was very, very painful at the time but in a way I’m lucky that I didn’t do it closer to the season.”
Bergmuller added that his first thought after injuring himself wasn’t necessarily about his own welfare.
“My first thought after I got back in the boat was ‘what on earth am I going to tell Steve!”, he said of teammate and reigning champion, Steven Richards.
Bergmuller expects to be in his brace – and using his special hand clutch – through the opening round of the championship at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
“I’ve got four more weeks in the boot and another six months’ worth of recovery and physio after that to get back to full strength, but I’ll definitely be on the grid at Clipsal – there’s no way I’d miss it.
“I’m fortunate in that if I was competing in another sport like football I’d be out of it for six months or more, but at least I can get back in a car and still compete.”
Bergmuller finished fourth in the 2014 Elite class standings, scoring one class race win and 12 race podium finishes across the eight-round championship.
He finished 13th overall in the 2014 PCCA standings.