TUNIS: Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka was recovering in hospital here overnight on Thursday after surviving an horrific crash in the eighth stage of the Dakar rally.
Shinozuka, who won the race in 1997, was flown to the Tunisian capital after overturning his Nissan pick-up in the Libyan desert.
It was originally feared the 54-year-old had suffered brain damage and chest injuries but scans showed he had escaped with fractured bones to his cheeks and nose.
Doctor Sami Mazhoud, one of the doctors treating him at the private Les berges du Lac clinic, said Shinozukas life was no longer at risk.
He is no longer in danger of death, said Mazhoud. There are no life-threatening wounds. There are no injuries to the brain, nor any chest injuries.
Shinozuka, who won the rally in 1997, was to be kept under surveillance overnight before being flown to Paris on Friday.
The accident occurred in sand dunes some 373km into the marathon 727-kilometre run between Ghat and Sabha in Libya, the longest stage in the gruelling rally.
The vehicle went out of control on a series of hill jumps in the dunes and overturned before rolling several times. He was unconscious when he arrived at hospital here, raising fears that he was comatose, but in fact he had been heavily sedated.
Shinozuka's French co-driver Thierry Delli Zotti was only slightly hurt in the accident. He accompanied his colleague on the flight to Tunis. AFP