In the third round of this year’s GT300 season, an incident occurred involving driver Matsuda and two GT300 cars as they exited the high-speed 130R. The impact was so severe that his NISMO-run Nissan was completely destroyed, leading to Matsuda being airlifted to the hospital. Fortunately, Nissan reported that Matsuda had managed to escape any major injuries, and after spending weeks in intensive care, he was transferred to a general ward to continue his recovery. Finally, in mid-July, six weeks after the crash, Matsuda was released from the hospital with enough fitness to return to his regular seat in the #23 Nissan at Fuji.
Speaking to the media, Matsuda opened up about the immediate aftermath of the accident. Due to a crack in his right ankle and muscle damage in his thighs, he was unable to walk. Despite his recollection of the entire accident, Matsuda was in so much pain that he couldn’t escape the car under his own power. He recounted how he had hopeful thoughts, praying that his leg was not broken and worrying about whether he would be able to make a comeback.
Regarding his recovery process, Matsuda explained that the muscles at the base of both his thighs were damaged and there was a small crack in his right ankle, which required a cast for stabilization. Initially, he was bound to a wheelchair and only able to participate in training and rehabilitation that could be done while sitting. Gradually, Matsuda regained his ability to walk through steady practice and increasing strength.
Matsuda’s Steady Progress
While his upper body remained mostly unaffected, Matsuda started training his legs in early July. He mentioned that the initial plan was to target a return to racing for the Fuji round and that’s what they ultimately achieved. However, even though he has made remarkable progress, Matsuda confessed that he is not yet back at 100% fitness. He estimated that he has reached around 70% to 80% in terms of overall fitness, with his left leg almost fully recovered while his right leg is lagging behind at more than 50%.
Throughout his recovery journey, Matsuda found alternative ways to maintain his stamina and continue training. Even when he couldn’t use his legs, he made use of a hand cycle, ensuring that his fitness level didn’t deteriorate further.
Despite the setback at Suzuka, Matsuda and his teammate Quintarelli currently sit third in the GT500 standings as they head into the Fuji round. They had an impressive start to the season, winning the opening race at Okayama and finishing seventh in the second round at Fuji in May. With their sights set on reclaiming their championship form, Matsuda’s return to the track will undoubtedly inject new energy into their campaign.
Matsuda’s journey from the devastating crash to his anticipated return at Fuji has been a testament to his determination and resilience. Overcoming physical injuries and the uncertainty of a successful comeback, he has fought tirelessly to regain his fitness and achieve his goal. While he may not be at his peak performance just yet, Matsuda’s progress is remarkable, and fans eagerly await his complete recovery, cheering for his future triumphs on the race track.