Natalie Kane sidelined on health grounds
Natalie Kane's hopes of winning the Women's World Motocross Championship are over.
The County Down woman has been ruled out of the penultimate round of the competition in Germany this weekend after it was discovered that fluid around her brain was causing blurred vision and light-headedness, a month after a collision in Sweden.
The Hitachi Construction Machinery UK KTM rider, from Loughbrickland, was involved in a collision with another rider while contesting a Swedish National championship.
Although she was diagnosed with concussion at the time, Natalie was given the all-clear by doctors to race at the last Grand Prix in France two weeks later.
Despite still feeling the effects of the injury, Natalie managed to post fifth and sixth place finishes to remain in the championship chase in third position, just 12 points behind series leader Italian Chiara Fontanesi.
With her vision still blurred and light-heads continuing, Natalie sought further medical advice from London-based specialist Dr Peter Richardson, who discovered the fluid around the brain and it was decided that it was unsafe to race.
"Gutted doesn't come close, especially as the crash wasn't my mistake and just a racing incident," said Natalie.
"I felt strong enough to race in France and wanted to stay in with a chance of the title after being cleared to ride.
"The results at Saint Jean d'Angely were not where they should have been and I felt quite strange over the weekend, so I went to see the specialist.
"Thankfully there is nothing seriously wrong, but it would be a risk to myself and other competitors to race in Germany as I still feel unwell and haven't been near a bike to train.
"That's the championship over for me and I'm really devastated, as so much effort has been put into this."
It is a huge blow for Natalie, who had taken podiums in every Grand Prix to date this season prior to the French round and at one stage she led the championship.
Team Manager Roger Magee from Crossgar said: "Natalie's health is much more important than any race and, although it is a huge disappointment to her and the team, her long term well-being is the only subject that we are focusing on right now."
Natalie is expected to be fit for the final round of the championship in the Czech Republic in the middle of July.
* ORGANISERS of the newest national road race, Armoy Road Races, have confirmed that local road racing royalty Michael and William Dunlop intend to compete at this year's meeting next month.
Now in its sixth year and established as a fixture on the road racing calendar, the Armoy Road Races takes place on Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26.
The news was announced yesterday as the races were launched at the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae,.
Michael Dunlop, 11 times Isle of Man TT winner and multiple winner at Armoy, has confirmed that he will take part.
William, although injured at the TT, hopes to back on a bike well before the Armoy Races. Having Michael and William, along with cousins Paul Robinson and Sam Dunlop, racing at Armoy ensures that the tradition of the legendary Armoy Armada carries on in this much loved area.
Brother of Armoy Armada member, Frank Kennedy and Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy said: "Having both Michael and William Dunlop racing here is a kind of homecoming and I know so many local fans will be very excited at the prospect of watching the Dunlops race around their local roads."