North West 200: Horror crash survivor Franck Petricola is back in action
Fearless French road racer Franck Petricola is back in action at the North West 200 today despite suffering life-threatening injuries during a practice race last year.
The 32-year-old was not expected to survive, let alone race again, when he suffered his horrific injuries last May.
The 80mph smash on the coast road section of the circuit left Petricola in a coma and he suffered multiple injuries as a result of his collision with a lamp post.
The Frenchman broke two vertebrae, his left arm, right elbow, right leg, several ribs and perforated his lungs, alongside a bleed in his brain.
But he's back in today's practice session, and is as fired up as ever.
"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," said Petricola.
"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.
"This year I want to have a lot of fun at the North West," he said.
"I would love to be the fastest newcomer but I know my place, my level, because there are very fast riders from England and Ireland there.
"When I saw a map of the North West course before I came, I thought it is fast but not really amazing," he said.
"But on my first lap I thought it was incredible. It was so fast and bumpy, especially the bit in the town, under the railway bridge. I love this track."
Petricola was not the only rider involved in a horrifying crash at the 2014 event.
31-year-old Simon Andrews sadly passed away as a result of injuries he sustained on the circuit.
The popular rider was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast by helicopter after the accident in the Superstock race, but died on the Monday.
His father later said: "Simon loved his racing, he loved the North West, he loved racing over here. He wouldn't have changed anything."