Eugene spirits high despite breaking wrists in Imola crash
Eugene Laverty had the worst possible start to the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship at Imola yesterday when he suffered two broken wrists following a huge high side from his Go Eleven Team Ducati V4 on the exit from Acqua Minerali after just three laps of practice.
The Ulsterman's wife, Pippa, said: "The high side as far as we are aware was due to a failure with the traction control. Eugene landed on both hands and has no head injuries or anything like that.
"He went to the medical centre where X-rays showed he had broken his wrists, and then we came to Imola Hospital where he underwent full body checks and ultrasounds to make sure he had no internal injuries or bleeding. They were all clear apart from several fractures to both hands.
"The plan is that when he is discharged from Imola, we will go directly to Barcelona Hospital to be with Dr Mir, who is a hand specialist and who has treated Eugene and many other riders in the past for similar injuries.
"He is simply the best, and Eugene goes down for surgery tomorrow (Saturday) after which we will be able to give a better idea of recovery.
"We still plan to be in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, it's North West 200 week and Eugene doesn't want to miss out on that. He is in good spirits after getting his wrist that was badly displaced painfully realigned.
"I want to thank Alberto from the Series Clinica Mobile who came with us to the hospital and all the staff at Imola Hospital for their support.
"Hopefully Eugene will be back fighting fit very soon."
Tommy Bridewell, the joint leader of the British Superbike Championship who rides for Oxford Ducati, has flown out to Imola to replace Laverty in today's qualifying and opening race on the Go Eleven Ducati.
Reigning champion Jonathan Rea topped the combined times from yesterday's two practice sessions after a late charge in FP2 to topple Chaz Davies off the top spot by 0.155 seconds on his last flying lap.
Rea strung together a succession of fast laps to continue Kawasaki's good form in Ducati's back yard.
Former team-mate Tom Sykes was third fastest yesterday on his BMW, while runaway Championship leader Alvaro Bautista, yet to be beaten in a race this season, had to settle for fourth fastest on his debut at the Italian circuit, although he and team-mate Davies did test here just over a week ago.
Ulsterman Rea said: "We didn't change much on the bike, it's pretty similar to last year, but I feel we have made a small step forward.
"Some areas of the track are good, some we have to improve on.
"In the first two sectors I just don't feel comfortable in the faster corners, but in the stop and go bits the bike is stopping so well. Let's see how things go."
Meanwhile, the Brian Bell Memorial motocross meeting is taking place at Laurelbank MX Park, Temple today, while the Dunlop Masters continues today and tomorrow on the international track at Mondello Park.
And a multi-sponsored 11-race programme including the second Richard Britton Memorial race will take place during the second Enniskillen Road Races on June 28-29.