As Andrew Tucker held the trophy in his hands, he could scarcely believe how far he’d come since a motorbike accident had threatened to destroy his life seven years ago.
The Newport native was riding his motorbike to his heavy metal band’s practice in January 2013 when a car collided with him while he was stationary at traffic lights, causing him serious injuries.
Andrew tore the ACL in his knee, which required partial reconstruction, and has an inverted right ankle, muscle damage to his lower leg and a large piece of muscle has had to be removed from the back of his calf.
For bike-mad Andrew, the accident threatened to derail all his passions; obsessed with bikes since he got his first aged 12, he had converted motorbikes at home and always jumped at the chance to rent bikes on family holidays.
Describing the accident, Andrew said: “I remember it too well. I spent six and half, seven years in and out of hospital. I had a lot of surgeries delayed, it was a very long process.
“All of my joys and hobbies had to come to an end. I loved skating, that had to stop. I was in a heavy metal band and that had to stop too.
“It has been really difficult – some hobbies you just can’t return to.”
Andrew also has limited movement and deformity in his right shoulder, trapped nerves in his neck, scoliosis and spondylitis in his spine and a deformed right hand and foot.
Alongside the physical damage, he suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
But despite what happened, Andrew decided to take up car racing a couple of years ago, which has changed everything for the better.
“I always loved cars, and I was a mechanic when I was a bit younger, I remember watching all the championships with my dad when I was younger.
“I bought a Renault Clio and took it on a track day while I was waiting for surgery, and it kick-started something.”
In April of last year Andrew went on an academy day with Team BRIT, a motorsport team which helps people with disabilities, PTSD and mental health issues.
“I saw they had helped veterans who had suffered mental health problems, and thought if they could help people will that level of trauma they could definitely help me.”
Enjoying the rush and having done some training, 32-year-old Andrew is now part of the 2020 driver line up for Team BRIT, which aims to be the first all-disabled team to race in Le Mans, and recently picked up two trophies in his first official races at Brands Hatch in the Trophy Category of the Britcar Championship on August 2.
Andrew said his success is partly down to his determination not to let his disability get the better of him.
“I don’t mind telling you I wake up screaming at night sometimes, I have nightmares and suffer post-traumatic stress from my accident,” he said.
“But I got to a point where I wasn’t going to let it stop me.
“Driving has been a way to focus my energy and ease my mind, rather than sitting there at home waiting for another surgery etc.
“It’s been a way to replace all the other hobbies I lost.
It’s been a godsend, really.”
He added: “If you’d turned around to me six months after the accident and said I’d be car racing I would’ve laughed and probably sent you flying out of the room!
“I’ve been really lucky to work with two great Welsh sponsors in Inspired Business Media and GRDetaling and Valeting, and it shows that physical disability does not matter in motorsport with the help of an amazing crew.”