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Race officials said Wednesday they believe the accident that...

TORONTO -- Race officials said Wednesday they believe the accident that killed West German driver Manfred Winkelhock at Mosport was caused by 'rapid tire deflation.'

Officials strongly denied West German reports that rescue workers did not respond adequately when Winkelhock crashed Sunday in a World Endurace Championship race.

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Winkelhock, 32, the 13th driver killed at Mosport since the track began operations in 1961, died in a hospital Monday from massive head injuries sustained when he slammed his Porche 962C into a concrete barrier on Turn Two.

'There's no doubt it took 40 minutes to get him out of the car because the first priority was to the driver,' said Mosport spokesman David Stone, who called the rescue effort a 'delicate operation.'

Stone said international racing stewards fined West German team manager Manfred Kremer $10,000 for disrupting the rescue attempt.

Kremer and one of his mechanics, who felt the car door should be removed to get Winkelhock out, took the chief medical officer's car and drove it onto the track and to the pit to get the tools they needed, Stone said.

The medical car had been parked in such a way as to shelter the accident site in case another driver spun out, Stone added.

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He described as 'absolutely untrue' West German reports track workers did not have proper tools and that the driver fell off a stretcher.

Winkelhock, who began his career in 1976 and progressed to Formula 2 and Formula 1 racing, lost control of his Kremer-Porsche on the 85th lap of the 1,000-km race. He was in eighth place, about 90 minutes into the race.

Stone said all evidence pointed to deflation of the front right tire as the cause of the crash.

There were skipping marks on the track and groove marks in the pavement where the rim carried the car, he said.

'Everything points to that but we don't know why the tire deflated,' he added. 'We will never know because the car was so badly smashed up.'

The Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs, the governing body in Canada, agreed the accident appeared to have been caused by tire failure.

Bryan Sangster, the organization's general manager, said rescue efforts were proper and under the direction of a qualified medical team.

'Rapid intervention vehicles and a fully equipped ambulance manned by specialists in rescue and extraction procedures were at the scene within the appropriate time intervals,' he said.

A coroner has determined from a post mortem that the driver died of intercranial hemorrhage.

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