Eugene out of arm's way
Toomebridge MotoGP star Eugene Laverty didn't have the best possible preparation for his wedding, when he broke his wrist and dislocated a shoulder in a testing crash in Spain, just a week prior to walking down the aisle at the beginning of December.
But having tied the knot with long-time partner Pippa Morson at the picturesque Dromoland Castle in County Clare, the 27-year-old Aspar Ducati rider is now well on the way to recovery.
"The crash was almost three weeks ago now and I am making good progress with my recovery," said the Monaco based Ulsterman.
"I had surgery in Barcelona the day after the crash and for a week or so after there wasn't much improvement because it took my body that time to recover from a big impact with the tyre wall."
Eugene has since had his cast removed and the stitches taken out of his damaged left wrist, and is now able to begin physiotherapy in Monaco and has also been visiting his Londonderry based friend and osteopath Micky Kerr.
"Dr. Mir did a fantastic job for me," explained Laverty. "The progress has been incredible. He is a very good surgeon and we will stay in regular contact, although there should be no need for me to go back to Barcelona for any further treatment now."
Speaking of his damaged shoulder the newly married MotoGP star said: 'My right shoulder, neck and back are feeling much better but it all takes time. It is a case of completing small exercises to make sure I don't lose muscle or movement and allow my body to recover.
"I said after the crash I would need six weeks to recover; we are halfway through that and I am confident in a few more weeks I will be fit. I am planning to start my cardio work again tomorrow on the stationary bicycle, but it's important for me to be patient and not do too much too soon, but as a racer that is never easy.
"In the mornings my head is still a bit sore and the neck is stiff, which is normal after such a big crash, but usually after a month that begins to settle down so I think in a week or so I will be able to really step things up."
Laverty's countryman, Jonathan Rea, will launch his World Superbike title defence next year in a revamped race format.
The major change will see the first World Superbike race move to Saturday afternoon, rather than running both on Sunday as previously. The change is aimed at improving the fan experience from Friday through to Sunday, providing more racing action throughout the weekend and allowing for additional special events. As well as boosting Saturday attendances, organisers and sponsors will be able to offer an even bigger selection of special events and shows, allowing fans to enjoy both on and off track action, in a way never previously possible.
Free practice and timed qualifying will now take place on Friday. Supersport qualifying, which adopts a Superpole format in 2016, will take place on Saturday before World Superbiike Race 1 and on Sunday Supersport and Superbike classes will race after warm up.
Rea welcomed the changes, saying: "I like the the new schedule. It never really made sense to have a Race 1 at 10.30am, for spectators or TV. The mechanics will be happy, too!"
The move follows extensive consultations involving promotors, circuits, manufacturers, sponsors and TV broadcasters and the initial feedback has been positive all round.