Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet was rushed to the hospital...

IMOLA, Italy -- Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet was rushed to the hospital Friday for observation after walking away from a crash during practice for Sunday's San Marino Formula One Grand Prix race.

Piquet, 34, had just set the fastest lap of 1 minute, 25.997 seconds on the 3.13-mile Dino Ferrari circuit before losing control of his car -- traveling at nearly 186 mph -- near the sweeping Tamburello curve, the first one after the starting grid.


Piquet was taken to the hospital for observation, said Frank Williams, whom Piquet drives for.

'We know little except that Nelson is coherent, but he took a blow to the head which has dazed him somewhat,' Williams said.

'He can't remember what happened, but he's gone off for observation and a brain scan,' said Williams, confined to a wheelchair after a road accident a year ago.

The accident happened 23 minutes into the scheduled one-hour first official practice for the San Marino race, second event of the Formula One season.

Minardi driver Adrian Campos saw the spinout just seconds after Piquet had passed him on the curve, the fastest one on the circuit.

The scene of the incident was just a few meters short of the spot where late Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve escaped injury in 1980 when he hit an oil slick at full speed and carrened off a guard rail and back onto the track.


Villeneuve died two years later during a crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Campos said Piquet, the world champion in 1981 and 1983, spun out unexpectedly and hit a safety barrier.

The Brazilian climbed out of his car, its front end a wreck, and was taken immediately to Bellario hospital in Bologna about 19 miles away.

Piquet finished second behind defending world champion Alain Prost of France in the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

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