Bike ace Franck Petricola killed at Isle of Man TT had just returned to racing after North West 200 injury
A motorcycle racer badly injured at the North West 200 a year ago has been killed in practice at the Isle of Man TT.
French rider Franck Petricola (32) from Pont a Mousson died after an accident at Sulby Crossroads in last night's qualifying session.
He returned to race at the NW200 this year and spoke of the dangers of racing and the crash that nearly killed him in an extensive interview with the Belfast Telegraph just before the meeting.
Petricola was not expected to survive, let alone race again, when he suffered his horrific injuries in practice for the North West last year. The 80mph smash on the coast road section left him in a coma.
He suffered multiple injuries in a collision with a lamppost, breaking two vertebrae, his left arm, his right elbow and right leg, several ribs and perforated lungs, but the most serious injury was to his head.
He credited the medics and organisation at the North West for saving his life.
He was treated within seconds of the crash by the travelling doctors from the race's medical team and transferred by helicopter to the Royal Hospital in Belfast.
"I hit my head and there was bleeding on my brain because of the trauma," he recalls.
"At first I had no memory at all. I didn't even know that I was at the North West when I woke up, I just saw all my family there at the bedside."
After a miracle recovery, he was back racing and entered the North West this year.
The BMW Superbike rider revealed he took into account the concern of his family and friends as he lay in a coma in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
But he insisted before the NW200: "I am ready for it. I am a big boy. When you ride in a road race you know it is possible to have a hard crash like this. It is not a problem. For me there was a bit of pain, yes, but for my family and friends it was a very hard experience when I was in the coma."
Petricola had no memory of the crash but even joked: "It was the day after my birthday and I got a lot of broken bones as a present."
Just days after Petricola's accident, English rider Simon Andrews (29) died after crashing in a race at the same North West meeting. Petricola raced at the Le Mans 24-hour meeting before riding at Scarborough and the North West.
It was his first TT meeting.
A statement about his death was released by the race organisers last night.
It said: "ACU Events Ltd regrets to announce that French rider Franck Petricola (32) from Pont a Mousson was killed following an accident at Sulby Crossroads at approximately 7.45pm during this evening's qualifying session at the Isle of Man TT races.
"Petricola was a regular competitor in the IRRC Championship and enjoyed his best season in 2013, with 11th overall in the Superbike category. His best result, sixth, came at Chimay and he ended the year strongly with six successive top 10 finishes and took a brace of thirds in the Lightweight Races at Horice and Terlicko.
"He was due to make his TT debut in 2014 but was injured in the North West 200 meeting earlier in the month and was forced to withdraw from last year's event. He returned to full fitness and raced at Scarborough and the North West 200 where he finished 25th in the Superstock race and 21st in the Superbike Race.
"The ACU wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Franck's family and friends. The Coroner of Inquests has been informed and an investigation into the circumstances of the accident is under way.