Martyn Bell is to miss the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season after medical checks revealed the need for treatment into two long-standing injuries.
Bell, who made his debut in the BTCC back in 2006 and partnered Paul O'Neill in the Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed outfit last season, has been told he requires surgery on a back injury he has carried since an accident at Snetterton in 2008.
Further investigation into a hip injury he picked up following a fall on holiday last summer has also revealed a fracture which needs further treatment, leaving the popular privateer with no option but to shelve his plans for 2010.
"It's been common knowledge that I have been carrying an injury since July, but after extensive tests and treatment following the final round of the season at Brands Hatch, it has now been discovered that I suffered a fracture in my hip, and have now developed arthritis," he said. "Added to the fact that I also require surgery on a long-standing back injury, I've been forced into the difficult decision to sit out the 2010 season.
"I was looking forward to 2010 and am obviously disappointed that I won't be able to race this season, but it has reached the stage where I am in pain driving my road car, so surgery is the only option. I'm also gutted that I've been told not to ride my Motocross bike anymore and I'm not sure I'll manage a round of golf for a while, which is a right pain as I just bought some new clubs!"
However, Bell insists that – with continued backing from his sponsors – he fully intends to make a return to the grid in 2011.
"It's not a decision I have taken lightly, but in reality, I had no option," he said. "My sponsors and backers fully understand the reasons behind the decision and have already said that they will continue to support me despite this setback.
"To have that level of support behind me is fantastic and I thank them all for it, and I fully intend to be back in the BTCC in 2011."