Stuart Easton was in hospital last night after a collision with his own team-mate left the Scotsman with a catalogue of injuries.
The 27-year-old was taking part in the opening practice session for Superstock machines when it was halted on the first lap after Easton tangled with MSS Colchester Kawasaki colleague Gary Mason just after Mill Road Roundabout, heading towards Station Corner.
Easton was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital from initial assessment at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine suffering from a broken pelvis, three broken fingers, leg injuries and internal bleeding.
Mason was able to walk away from the accident.
Easton — from Hawick in Scotland — one of the pre-event favourites, had been eighth fastest in Tuesday evening’s Superbike qualifying session and was a fancied runner for honours.
Last year, of course, he was the fastest-ever rider through the speed trap at the North West, recording 204mph approaching University Corner on his way to second and fifth place finishes in the two Superbike races.
Easton, British supersport champion in 2002, made his North West 200 debut in 2004 and is currently one of the leading contenders in the British Superbike championship, lying in third position, and is a four-time winner of the Macau Grand Prix.
Mason, from Lichfield in Staffordshire, was only making his second appearance at the North West and was 14th fastest in Tuesday night’s superbike qualifying having finished 16th and 20th on his North West 200 debut last year in the two superbike races.
Mason is a former British Superbike Cup champion and both he and Easton had podium finishes at the most recent BSB round at Croft, near Darlington, last weekend.