Tom Sykes’ former factory Kawasaki team-mate Joan Lascorz has spoken out about his career-ending Imola testing crash for the first time, a year after the fateful events of 2 April 2012.
The 28-year-old Spaniard, paralysed from the chest down, says he believes his injuries were avoidable and the circuit must share some of the blame.
He says: “There must be safety investments in circuits to be redesigned because we’re riding 240bhp bikes, not 160bhp bikes like they were ten years ago. The circuit was not prepared for such powerful motorbikes.”
Lascorz suffered a freak crash and hit a concrete wall at over 120mph and says: “I have time to think about it now, and I’m of the opinion that promoters, circuits and the FIM should put pressure on to get things changed.
"I’m sure my injury could have been avoided. Falls happen when riding to the limit, but crashing into a wall at 200km/h should not."
MCN met him in his rented apartment in Barcelona.
What happened at the Imola test?
It was the Monday after the race and it had been a difficult round for us as we hadn’t been able to find a good set-up for the bike. During the test we tried various different things that I really liked. I did eight good laps with used tyres and I was motivated, so I went into the box for a new rear tyre.
After that I went back out on track determined to ride a good lap – but I never crossed the finish line. I came out of Tossa corner in second gear and started accelerating up to fifth gear. I was just about to change direction when I went off the track directly into the wall.
Did the data reveal anything?
The truth is that I haven’t analysed telemetry yet, I’ll do it when I have the courage. But according to my team, when I was coming out of Tossa corner I was up into fifth just before pushing the bike in to Piratella corner to approach turn nine.
It seems that the front tyre didn’t touch the track anytime while I was accelerating, it was always a few centimetres from the surface, and when I got into the corner the front tyre speed was only 15 km/h because it slowed down due to the contact of the pads on the disc.
The rear tyre speed was nearly 200km/h... This huge difference and the fact that I was getting into the corner seem to be the reason why I lost the front and I went straight on into the wall.
What do you remember of the accident?
I remember everything. I remember starting to lose the front without knowing why, and I went straight on. I crashed into the wall with my head and when I hit I felt a strong pain on my back.
Then I was rolling, but I couldn’t feel my body. I started thinking ‘No way, no way... this can’t be true...’ I remember Dr Costa, whom I saw for the first time (I had only seen him on TV).
Then I was moved to Bologna hospital in a helicopter. Once there, I was sedated and I don’t remember anything else.
The accident took place at 12 noon and by 4pm I was being operated on. It lasted hours and thanks to it I can now move my arms and wrists.
I have no brain injury effects, so I am as lucid as always, but I look at life in a different perspective.
Everybody in the motorcycling world was worried for you after the accident.
While I was in intensive care I didn’t realise, but shortly after that, I had access to all the messages on TV, newspapers, internet and general media.
A lot of riders had the sticker my team made for me on their helmets: ‘Power for Lascorz’.
Most of my colleagues in SBK and WSS had it: Biaggi, Melandri, Sykes, Checa, Salom, Rea, Haslam... and also Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Hayden, Dovi, Márquez, Espargaró... nearly all the MotoGP riders.
How have you adapted yourself to the new situation?
Nowadays I am trying to plan my life in the long-term to understand how it will be for me. Three days a week I go to a gym for two hours.
Two months ago I started learning about the stock market. I work on that from 8am to noon every day and I control the stock values. At the moment, I only examine the program but maybe in the future it could be a job option for me.