Guy Martin has spoken about his dramatic crash at the Ulster Grand Prix, praising staff at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital and revealing how a back protector saved his life.
The TV star and 14-times Dundrod winner was leading the final lap of the Dundrod 150 Superbike race last month when he lost control of his Tyco BMW at Ireland’s Corner.
The crash catapulted him through the air, fracturing vertebrae, his sternum and a number of ribs.
He had back surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital on the Friday and signed himself out by the Monday to return to his job as a mechanic.
Today he posted a message to his Facebook fans, explaining why he had "kept his head down for a few weeks".
"I didn't want the world knowing I spannered myself, but it turns out the world already knew," he said.
"I don’t remember anything about the crash after headbutting the ground, but the Dainese and AGV stuff I was racing in was bloody brilliant. The leathers were cut off me, but there weren’t many scuffs on them.
"I headbutted the ground at 130mph, then skidded into a dirt field and catapulted off a few things. The impact I hit the ground with was massive. I was knocked out, but it’s a credit to that helmet that I didn’t suffer any damage other than a badly bloodshot eye.
"...I’ve broken some vertebrae, but I’ve got to say the Dainese back protector did its job. It has a honeycomb aluminium core that was crushed by the impact, which is what’s supposed to happen, and it’s making funny noise if you flex it, but I crashed on Thursday night, I was operated on Friday afternoon and walking Saturday morning. I was in the shed the following Thursday.
"That back protector genuinely saved my bloody life."
Martin spoke of the moment he woke up in the Royal Victoria Hospital: "It was all the usual questions, Where are you sore? Does this hurt? I was in Belfast Royal and I’ve never been more impressed by a hospital than I was by that place, all the staff were great."
He said he broke five vertebrae and medics bolted six together. Two are unstable, he said, "meaning there’s a chance they could move and damage my spinal column".
He has a rod in his spine because he "cracked his sternum straight down the middle", and he broke five ribs and two metacarpals in his right hand.
"I’ve been back at work a while, but I’m struggling with everything," he wrote candidly.
"Sharon, my other-half, thought I was an idiot for trying to go back to work so soon, but I’d spent nearly a week at home, and I had to do something.
"Now she admits that me going to work has moved me on loads, mentally and physically. There’s no better physio than working on trucks and I know when I’m doing too much, I’m not planning to do anything that puts the recovery back.
"The surgeon had to move my shoulder blade muscles to get the metalwork in, then fasten them all on again. That’s what’s causing the most bother, the muscle not the broken bones.
"A lot of my work involves having my hands above my head, in the pit working on a truck above me, but I’m alright as long as I don’t overdo it."
Martin said his few days off work had given him time to consider his future, and thanked his friends and fans for all their support.
"Having a few days off work gave me time to think about what I want to do, and realise all things that have had to go on hold.
"I still want to race, but I’m not going to rush into deciding what or where I’m going to race."
Who would ever have thought that an unkempt lorry mechanic from Lincolnshire, who happens to race motorcycles on his weekends off, would become the housewives' choice and the must-meet celebrity for all and sundry in 2015?