Louth British Superbike rider Peter Hickman has sustained a serious neck injury after crashing out during a practice session on Saturday afternoon at Oulton Park.
Hickman went down heavily on the approach to Druids, sustaining two broken ribs and the championship’s medical team declared him unfit to ride for the rest of the weekend meaning he missed both of Monday’s 18-lap races.
After further investigation at Leighton Hospital, it was discovered that Hickman has two breaks of the C4 vertebrae in his neck meaning will be unable to participate in the North West 200, the first International road race of the season, which gets underway on Tuesday, May 12.
Peter Hickman commented after the crash: “Everything had been going really well for me and I did nothing different to what I had done the previous lap so it was a very strange crash. I lost the front in a very unusual place and it went without warning and at a very high speed.
“I had no chance to slow down and had a very hard impact with the barrier. It was a tough crash and a hard crash but whilst I’m obviously feeling stiff and sore, I’m feeling a lot better than I thought.
“I’m just gutted for the team and all the sponsors that we’re not going to get the opportunity to show what we can do in the two races.”
The Louth-based rider enjoyed an excellent debut at the event 12 months ago, comfortably being the best performing newcomer and also recording the fastest ever lap by a circuit debutante and he is bitterly disappointed at being unable to return.
However, the nature of his injuries mean it simply isn’t possible to ride and the aim now is to be fully fit for the Isle of Man TT Races which commence on Saturday, May 30.
Lee Hardy, team owner added: “It’s deeply disappointing for Peter and everyone connected with the team that we’ll be unable to take part in the North West 200 but his injuries from the crash on Saturday are a little bit worse than we first thought.
“The goal now is to support Peter as best as we can and ensure he gets the best possible medical support with the aim of being ready for the TT. He needs to get as much rest and recuperation as he can and the final decision will ultimately lie with his surgeon but we’re very hopeful of being ready for practice week at the Isle of Man.
“I’d also like to thank the on-site medical team at Oulton Park for all their excellent treatment and support given to Peter after his accident.”
Mervyn Whyte, event director of the North West 200 said: “It’s obviously disappointing that Peter’s not able to come to the North West 200 this year but his health and well-being has to come first and no-one wants his injuries to develop into anything worse.
“With him being the best newcomer in 2014, we were all very much looking forward to him returning as I have no doubt he would have made an even bigger impression this time around.
“These things happen in racing though and he’s young enough to return to the event for many years to come so we’ll look forward to welcoming him back in 2016.”