Jonathan Rea's hopes of challenging for the 2011 World Superbike title could be dealt a serious blow before the season has even started as question marks remain as to whether he will be fit enough to participate at Phillip Island.
The Northern Irishman's Castrol Honda suffered a major technical issue at one of the fastest points on the circuit, with a fire developing from leaking oil at the rear and forcing him to get off the bike at 130mph.
Flown to hospital where he underwent an X-ray on his left hand and wrist, so far Rea is confirmed with a dislocated ring finger, but is still receiving scans.
A huge frustration for Rea, who is regarded as a firm title favourites, though no formal decision has been made as to whether he will withdraw this weekend, he is disappointed to be faced with the prospect of beginning the 2011 season as he ended 2010.
“I'm so frustrated because we were just about there on race pace and everything was feeling really good. Early in this afternoon's session, I was in turn three and winding it on when I suddenly felt the rear squirming and then I realised the bike was on fire. Basically I had to get off it quickly and unfortunately it was at 130mph, which is quick enough.
“My finger and wrist are sore – in fact I'm pretty sore all over – but I'm still waiting for the final diagnosis. At the moment it's too early to know how I'll be feeling at the weekend, but I certainly didn't want to start this season the way I finished the last one.
“I know it's one of those things that you don't expect and can't prepare for, but it's nobody's fault and we'll just have to hope I can be back on it soon.”
Despite the accident, Rea was still classified third on the overall timesheets at the end of the two day test.