James Toseland has announced that he has been forced to end his competitive motorcycling career at the age of only 30 due to the wrist injury he picked up at Motorland Aragón earlier this year, acknowledging that 'I will never again be fully-fit to race at the highest level' and admitting to being 'extremely sad to be leaving racing behind'.
Toseland sustained the injury to his right wrist during a testing crash at Aragón back in March, causing him to have to skip the following outings at Donington Park, Assen and Monza. The Yorkshireman – who had targeted a fresh start this year with BMW Motorrad Italia following a disappointing World Superbike Championship return in 2010 with the factory Yamaha operation – belatedly rejoined the fray at Miller Motorsports Park in the USA at the end of May, only to have to withdraw from race two there due to continuing difficulties.
He did not appear again until an abortive attempt to compete at Brno in the Czech Republic a month-and-a-half later, before grittily racing in front of his adoring home fans at Silverstone. However, another fall at the Nürburgring last weekend – one race after making his 200th World Superbike start – prompted a visit to consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mike Hayton, who yesterday (Thursday) told him that regardless of physiotherapy, the damage to his wrist is irreparable.
Albeit with an understandably heavy heart, the two-time WSBK Champion has consequently taken Hayton's advice and confirmed his retirement from active competition with immediate effect, describing this last week as 'one of the most difficult of my life'.
“I wanted to write you a personal letter to explain the factors that have forced my early retirement and to take the opportunity to thank you for all of the amazing support you have given me throughout my career,” 'JT' wrote on his personal website. “As you all know, I've had a tough time since injuring my right wrist during a testing crash at Aragón earlier this year.
“At the time of first seeing my consultant, he warned that the damage to my wrist could be career-threatening, but we both committed to doing everything we could to ensure that I could continue racing. Having struggled through a couple of races and then crashing out in the terrible conditions at the Nürburgring, I went back to see the consultant, Mike Hayton, this week and the diagnosis was the worst I could have prepared myself for.
“The easiest way to explain it is that I don't have enough range of movement in my wrist to race professionally, and no amount of physiotherapy is going to improve that. This all led to the verdict that it's no longer safe for me to continue a career in motorcycle racing.
“While that's hard to hear, I have to put the safety of the other riders on-track first, as well as thinking about my own safety. Knowing that I will never again be fully-fit to race at the highest level, it's also unfair for me to occupy a great seat in WSBK that a young, talented rider who is fully-fit could take better advantage of. I hope that the team can find a replacement who is able to do justice to the bike and the people working on it.
“Obviously, the decision has been a difficult one and it's been really hard to take the advice of my consultant and admit defeat on this occasion, but I really have no other option left at this stage. I've tried everything possible for the last few months, but the sad truth is that none of it has worked and my wrist will never fully heal enough for me to operate the throttle properly and navigate right-hand turns.
“I hadn't expected my retirement to come at this time or in this way, and I'm extremely sad to be leaving racing behind, but I still have the memories of the amazing opportunities and success that this career has provided me with. You have been amazing in the best and worst times of my career, and it's been almost like having a second family to support me through my career – so thank you for everything, and I hope I have done you proud.”
“JT has shown dedication and determination in our aim to recover the best possible function in his right wrist,” added Hayton, according to Eurosport
. “We acted quickly to repair the damage with surgery and rehabilitation and, initially, believed that this had gone well, but we had also been clear from the outset that this was a potentially career-threatening and devastating injury.
“While his approach to recovery has been admirable and he has continued to make good progress, he has not recovered enough range of movement in the right wrist to continue as an elite motorcyclist. We had a difficult discussion on his future career, in which he showed a true sense of professionalism and an unselfish approach to making way for young, talented riders. To work with athletes like JT is a privilege and makes us do what we do.”
For a profile looking back over James Toseland's tremendously successful career, click here