Disability forces Toseland’s racing retirement

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Double World Superbike Champion, James Toseland is retiring from professional motorcycle racing with immediate effect following a visit to Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mike Hayton, yesterday. The visit confirmed Toseland’s worst fears that the damage sustained to his right wrist during a testing crash at Aragon earlier this year is irreparable and no amount of physiotherapy can repair the injury.

The crash which has turned out to be career-ending took place at the Spanish circuit in March this year and the 31-year-old’s resulting battle to return to full fitness has been well publicised. However, having struggled with the injury during recent races and following a further crash at the last race at Nurburgring in Germany, the Yorkshireman has been told that it is no longer safe for him to continue his career in professional motorcycle racing.

Damage caused by the first crash has left James with a severely restricted range of movement in his right wrist, making it difficult to operate a motorcycle throttle properly and almost impossible to navigate right hand turns. The unexpectedly premature end to what has been an outstanding career, has understandably been extremely upsetting for Toseland, who has tried every treatment and recovery option possible to return to racing.

Consultant Mike Hayton said: “JT has shown dedication and determination in our aim to recover the best possible function in his right wrist. We acted quickly to repair the damage with surgery and rehabilitation and, initially, believed that this had gone well, but we had also been clear from the outset that this was a potentially career-threatening and devastating injury. 
“While his approach to recovery has been admirable and he has continued to make good progress, he has not recovered enough range of movement in the right wrist to continue as an elite motorcyclist. We had a difficult discussion on his future career, in which he showed a true sense of professionalism and an unselfish approach to making way for young, talented riders. To work with athletes like JT is a privilege and makes us do what we do.”
James added: “2011 has been a tough year for me and this week has been one of the most difficult of my life, but advice from professionals has made it clear that my crash at Aragon has left me with a permanent disability, which means that I will never again be able to ride competently at this level. 
“While that’s hard to hear, I have to place the emphasis on the safety of other riders in the paddock as well as myself and I realise that it’s not fair to occupy a World Superbike seat with a team as professional as BMW Motorrad Italia when there are fit and talented riders available who are desperate for this type of opportunity.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed a long and successful career doing something I love and I’m really grateful for that. I’ve been lucky enough to bounce back from serious injuries in the past and I’ve had the support of a great family, brilliant friends and a fantastic fanbase to see me through the highs and lows. I’d like to thank the BMW Motorrad Italia team for their suport and understanding and all of the personal sponsors who have remained loyal to me, including MMCG, Henderson and Bennetts.
“I hope that the team can find a replacement who is able to do justice to the bike and the people working on it. I hadn’t expected my retirement to come at this time or in this way and I’m extremely sad to be leaving racing behind, but I still have the memories of the amazing opportunities and success that this career has provided me with.”

Andrea Buzzoni, Project Director of BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team and Director of BMW Motorrad Italia, added “I’m personally very sorry about James’ retirement. I had the opportunity to meet James this year and get to know him and I could appreciate his professional and especially his human qualities in such a difficult year. I want to thank James for his behaviour, his beautiful and transparent personality and his kindness and professionalism. In racing there are lots of fast riders, but James joins together rider talent and great humanity. He’s an excellent rider – a champion – and a very good and positive person. Thank you James!”

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider