Max Biaggi's hopes of retaining his World Superbike Championship crown looks to be in tatters after he was forced to miss his first event in 19 years because of injury.

The Aprilia Alitalia rider had alluded to problems with his foot after being struck by debris during Friday's practice sessions, though he was still able to claim third position on the grid for the two races.

However, subsequent x-rays would reveal a fracture to the metatarsal, while an increase in swelling overnight would prevent Biaggi from even getting his boot on. Though he experimented with a larger boot, the increasing pain would eventually force him to concede defeat.

Skipping a round for the first time since 1992, Biaggi was disappointed with the outcome, but satisfied that it was nothing more than a freak accident.

"I think it must be a Guinness world record to break a foot so badly without crashing! I tried everything I could to get onto the track, but it was impossible to race under these conditions. The pain was just too severe. I am very disappointed.

"This is the first race that I've missed in 19 years of my career. Unfortunately we don't have any control over hard luck, which I hope has been satisfied with this weekend because I would really like to finish out the season well."

Biaggi's misfortune means he is now 95 points behind Carlos Checa in the overall standings with six races to go and a maximum of 150 points still available.


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