2007 MX1 motocross world champion Steve Ramon is likely to miss up to three months of world championship action after being diagnosed with a fractured C7 vertebra.
The injury was sustained when the Suzuki star was caught out by a badly rutted double jump whilst in the thick of a thrilling victory battle, in the closing stages of race one at Sunday's Grand Prix of Benelux at Valkenswaard.
Worryingly, the 29-year-old rode with the injury during race two at the sandy circuit, which he finished in seventh position - despite obvious discomfort and swelling around his right eye.
Ramon then went for a medical examination on Monday and scans revealed the break of the facet joint, although the extent of the damage is not placing any pressure on his spine.
Another scan next week will determine the exact length and manner of treatment.
Doctors have told the Belgian that he faces a three-month recovery period and a possible return date - if the rehabilitation goes well and according to plan - could be the team's home event, the GP Limburg at Lommel on August 2nd.
The accident certainly rules out Ramon's title ambitions for 2009.
"Of course this is a big blow for us and because of the nature of the injury we must be careful that Steve heals correctly and in a good way," said team principal Sylvain Geboers.
"Sadly this is one of the things that can happen in our sport and we must deal with it. For the moment Ken De Dycker will be our sole rider in Portugal and Spain in the coming weeks, and unless we can find someone that will be able to get close to Steve's level, then it will be hard to temporarily replace him.
“I would just like to offer my sincere best wishes to Steve during his recovery; he has been fantastic for us since he joined the team and these next few events will be the first that he misses in four years as a Suzuki rider."