Markus Reiterberger says after 'serious consideration' he has come to a joint decision with Althea BMW to leave the team and the World Superbike championship in order to fully recover from a back injury sustained last year.

Last June Reiterberger sustained two fractured vertebrae (T10 and T12) during a World Superbike race at Misano and despite taking a lengthy recover period to return at his home round in Germany in September he has admitted he's never felt fully fit since the accident.

After beginning the 2017 World Superbike championship saw frustrating results for Reiterberger, with the German producing just one top ten finish in the opening three rounds, he has taken the tough decision to leave the team and the championship in order to fully recover from last year's injury.

"After serious consideration, I have decided to step away from participating in WorldSBK," Reiterberger said. "We made a strong start last season but then couldn't keep up the good results. I have therefore opted to refocus on making a complete recovery and on my racing career.

"I am very thankful for the experience in WorldSBK with Althea BMW Racing Team and I am now very much looking forward to new challenges. I feel the need to thank my sponsors for having allowed me to take part in the world championship, BMW Motorrad for their trust and passion, and my appreciation also goes out to the whole Althea BMW Racing Team crew for their work.

"I was very much encouraged by the positive reception from my friends, family and fans - I am very thankful for that. It was always my dream to participate in WorldSBK and with the experience I've gained, I will work very hard to return to the championship."

Genesio Bevilacqua, Althea BMW general manager, has thanked Reiterberger for his commitment to returning to action but supports the 23-year-old's decision and wishes him well on his recovery and hopes to see the German return to World Superbikes in the near future.

"I am of course very sad to have to make this announcement, as I consider Markus to be a strong athlete and a considerable talent, who could have been a good match for the Superbike category," Bevilacqua said. "Unfortunately, the accident he suffered at Misano complicated things, as he was unable to fully regain that confidence that he had shown during the earlier part of the 2016 season.

"I think that this decision leaves us all sad, me personally, the entire Althea team and BMW too, but I believe it's normal that he wants to find that peace of mind. Markus is still only 23 and so has all the time he needs to recover and bounce back.

"I can only thank him for the commitment he showed throughout his stay with the Althea team, and we all wish him lots of luck, in the hope that we soon see him back, stronger than ever and whatever the bike. He can no doubt still find the physical conditions he needs to shape his future."

Reiterberger will be replaced by Raffaele De Rosa at the fourth round of the World Superbike championship at Assen on the 28-30 April with Althea BMW expected to make a firm decision on a full-time replacement in the coming weeks.

Reiterberger will take a break from racing completely with immediate effect in order to recover from his back injury before opting to restart his racing career.