MCE British Superbike challenger Filip Backlund has chosen to sit out 2017 to focus on fully recovering from injuries sustained at the final round of last season.
In the penultimate race of the 2016 season at Brands Hatch, Backlund was involved in a heavy crash with Howie Mainwaring Smart in which both sustained serious injuries and a trackside race official was also injured.
Despite beginning his recovery Backlund says he's only been able to walk 'three times of a week' for 'just 20 minutes each' since the Christmas period and has also experienced speech, balance and memory problems as an effect of his head injury.
As a result, Backlund will miss the 2017 season in order to regain full fitness before making any further decision on his racing career.
“The final race was around four months ago but it's only been since Christmas that I've been able to do some short walks, three times a week of just 20 minutes each,” Backlund said. “This is hard for someone who is always in the gym training.
“For two months straight I couldn't do anything physical and during that time after the crash it was quite worrying as I had issues with speaking, lost my balance and had memory problems. Things have improved, but I realise things will not be right to race in 2017.
“I've been racing for 23 years and you think that the worst thing that can happen is that you could be paralysed, but you can overcome that, as many amazing people have.
"I guess it's that 'superhero' mentality that bike racers have: you break a bone, they plate it, or pin it and you race a week or so later. You smash your head and suffer serious concussion and there's no simple fix for this, it's time that is needed. It's one of those occasions as a racer that we realise we are not 'super-human' and I guess it's a bit of a wake-up call.”
The BSB rider has played down the chances of a comeback in 2018 but won't make a firm decision until closer to the time as he also prepares for the birth of his first child and is focused on staying positive.
“A lot of things could still happen in the next 12 months. The biggest thing for me, and of course, my partner Lindha is the birth of my daughter due in May. We're both looking forward to that very much,” he said. "Racing has been a massive part of my life, but it's never been the only thing. I do believe it's all a journey containing many chapters. It may be today that I stop, or it may be in ten years' time. At the moment, I simply know that I cannot race in 2017.”
Backlund, who runs his own race school and track day business, will continue to work at home during his recovery in 2017 in preparation for his expanding family.
The Swedish rider has also given his best wishes to Mainwaring Smart and the injured trackside official who continue their respective recovery programmes.
“Following the crash a lot of things have been put sharply into perspective for me,” he said. “Firstly I want to say that I hope Howie and the race official are OK and recuperating well with their families.
"I'm now looking forward to getting fitter and becoming a father. I love racing bikes, but I don't want to be in a position where I can't look after my family so that is motivating my decision to not race this year. We shall see what happens after 2017.”