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The Rush Rivalry: The Immortalised Story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt

Niki Lauda and James Hunt's rivalry was immortalised in the movie 'Rush' for now the two huge Formula One figures are no more.

News18 Sports

Updated:May 21, 2019, 3:57 PM IST
The Rush Rivalry: The Immortalised Story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt
The friendship and rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt will not be forgotten. (Photo Credit: AP)

Niki Lauda died on Monday at the age of 70 with his family confirming the news with an official statement sating that he has "peacefully fallen asleep".

"In deep sadness we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully fallen asleep with his family.His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable. His tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and standard for all of us. Away from the public, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. He will miss us very much," The statement read.

While the world mourns the death of a Formula One legend, there is one part of his prolific career that has been immortalised - his rivalry with his long-time friend James Hunt.

Their rivalry and Niki Lauda's story has been portrayed in the famous movie Rush. Though Unlike the film's interpretation, where Lauda and Hunt were shown to be disliking each other in early stages of their career, Lauda had come out and said that they were cordial with each other.

After winning his first Formula One Drivers Championship in 1975, Luda won four of the first six races in 1976 and looked destined to defend his title but that is when his life took a turn, that would later define him.

Lauda was so badly injured in that accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix that a priest gave him the last rites as he lay in a coma.

His Ferrari had slammed into a barrier and then burst into flames as it spun back onto the track, where an oncoming car hit it again. By the time he was pulled from the wreckage, his face, scalp and right ear were severely burnt and his lungs scorched.

In Lauda's absence, Hunt became the favourite to win the title. However, it was then that Lauda displayed resiliance and grit that he will be remembered forever for.

Just six weeks later, his burns bandaged and raw, he was racing again, vying to retain his Formula One world title. It remains one of the sport's most memorable acts of courage and defiance.

In the comeback race, just six weeks after the crash at the Italian Grand Prix, Lauda finished fourth, with the champion racer ending the race soaked in blood through his unhealed wounds.

In the last race of the season in Japan, Lauda came in trailing three points behind Hunt. Unfortunately he wasn't able to finish the last race of the season, as he ended the year second overall to James Hunt in the World Championships.

Even before his crash his buck teeth earned him the nickname "The Rat", and he would later recall that his friend and rival James Hunt told him he looked better after the accident than before.

"It's finished. I live today and think of tomorrow. Take the experience," Lauda had said.

Lauda's life has been of great inspiration to many but his battle with health was not something new and it eventually took his life as well.

According to reports in the Austrian media, Lauda was receiving kidney dialysis at a private clinic in Switzerland. As a matter of fact, Lauda had previously received kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005.

Lauda's brother Florian said that the champion racer had to be transferred to a private clinic for dialysis.

"Due to kidney problems, he had to be transferred from the rehabilitation center to a private clinic for dialysis," Florian said.

Niki Lauda had been suffering with minor ailments over the last couple of years as he was admitted with the flu in Vienna, just five months after he had underwent a lung transplant.

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