A rider with tremendous promise, it is a desperate shame that we will never get to know exactly how good Joan Lascorz could have been in the World Superbike Championship following the testing accident that left him paralysed.
Just four races into his second WSBK season, Lascorz was being tipped for great things when a fall at Imola during a post-event test left him with horrific injuries that have subsequently left him without the use of his legs.
Curtailing a burgeoning motorcycling career, not since Fonsi Nieto burst onto the Superbike scene in 2006 did Spain have such an exciting youngster to cheer on in the production category
Discovering his love for competitive motorcycling aged just ten, Lascorz made his first significant impression on the domestic scene at the age of 19 with title victory in the Supermoto category.
The success duly saw him promoted to the Spanish Supersport Championship riding the Glaner Castrol Honda, a switch that drew notable success with a run to sixth position in the standings despite skipping two races.
While he would return for a second season with the same team in 2006, his attempts to challenge for the title were scuppered by his failure to win a single race. He would eventually end his season fourth in the standings behind the likes of David Salom and Javier Fores clutching a best finish of third from seven races.
Despite this, his performances were still enough to persuade his Glaner team, now backed by Motocard.com - which would go on to become a long-time personal sponsor of Lascorz’s – to graduate to the world championship in 2007.
While it wouldn’t be Lascorz’s first WSS outing following wild-card performances at Imola in 2005 and 2006, it would represent a significant step up in competition for the youngster and he subsequently struggled to find consistency on the CBR600RR.
Failing to finish the opening three races of the season, Lascorz finally got onto the scoreboard during his home event at Valencia with a solid run to eighth position. While it would take him until round eleven at Lausitz for him to break into the top ten again with another eighth place – following just three point scoring results of 15th, 15th and 12th -, he would go on to create a stir with a fine ride to third place at Vallelunga.
It was a result that catapulted him up to an eventual 18th position in the standings and gave both he and the team confidence to carry on unchanged into the 2008 season.
It would prove a wise move, Lascorz shrugging off his troublesome baptism of fire to come out fighting at the start of the season. Finishing second in the opening round at Losail – having led briefly -, Lascorz claimed a shock first win at Valencia just two races later, a result that even saw him lead the standings for a short time.
While he was eventually overhauled by the factory Hondas and Yamahas, Lascorz continued to score well over the season, scoring further podiums at Assen and Portimao to eventually end the year in fifth position overall and with his pick of the deals for 2009.
Indeed, with the Glaner team taking Lascorz as far as it could go on its privateer budget, Lascorz duly penned a deal to join Kawasaki’s factory Supersport effort for 2009 and 2010.
While the decision raised a few eyebrows following the manufacturer’s disastrous 2008 campaign under the stewardship of Gil Motorsport – one that saw it fail to crack the top eight once -, Lascorz’s acquisition came in tandem with a decision to switch operators to the newly-formed Provec outfit, run by former rider Pere Riba.
Shadowed by long-time Kawasaki tester Katsuaki Fujiwara, Kawasaki turned itself around during the off-season and – with the help of Lascorz – established itself as front-runners again.
While Lascorz struggled to turn his strong pre-season pace into anything more than an eighth place finish during the opening three rounds, a podium result at Assen kick-started a run of strong form that saw him finish no lower than fourth over the next eight races.
Becoming embroiled in an intense exchange for third overall with record-breaking WSS rider Kenan Sofuoglu, Lascorz aided his chances with a popular victory at Magny-Cours – Kawasaki’s first at this level for two and a half years -, but two DNFs in the final three races allowed his rival to get the nod in the end.
Staying on for a second season with the Japanese manufacturer, Lascorz was rightly included amongst the pre-season title favourites, and duly stamped his authority with a third WSS win at Valencia, his consistency enabling him to nose ahead during the opening few rounds.
While his victory count was down on Sofuoglu and Eugene Laverty’s as the season reached its final stages, Lascorz remained in contention for the title up until the tenth round of the season when he was involved in a serious accident at the start of Silverstone round.
Clipping Laverty’s Honda on the run up to Becketts, Lascorz came down in front of the chasing pack and was collected at high-speed by the unsighted Roberto Tamburini. Leaving him with a series of injuries to his ribs and shoulder, Lascorz spent more than a month in hospital, forcing him to curtail his season – and concede title defeat.
Nonetheless, despite missing the final three rounds, Lascorz had still amassed enough of an advantage to retain third in the standings.
Having been signed to a Kawasaki contract back in 2009, few were surprised when Lascorz was announced as part of its WSBK rider line-up for 2011, the manufacturer promoting as a reward for restoring its reputation in the Supersport arena.
Despite his steady recovery, Lascorz began the season in full health and promptly signalled his intentions with a fine fifth place finish in the second event at Donington Park. Though it would take him until Aragon to match that result, Lascorz proved a frequent top ten contender over the course of the season.
Though three fifth places finishes didn’t represent the most inspiring score sheet, Lascorz often raced far better than he qualified. Indeed, each of those results came as a result of SP3 grid positions, but Lascorz often found himself battling back from lowly starting positions in 2011, an area of improvement he has already identified.
Despite this, Lascorz still out-scored more experienced team-mate Tom Sykes on the way to 11th in the standings, earning him an extended stay at Kawasaki for 2011. With personal manager Pere Riba coming on board as team principal following Kawasaki’s decision to hand the running of the outfit to Provec, Lascorz had the opportunity to flourish in more familiar surroundings.
However, in the year that Kawasaki came of age and challenged for the title in the hands of Sykes, Lascorz's career had come to a desperately sad end when an accident at Imola left him paralysed. A sad day for the motorsport community, Lascorz has nonetheless shown spirit and determination in coming to terms with his irreversible injuries and will never be forgotten by the WSBK paddock. Career Highlights: 2012:
World Superbike Championship (4 races), Kawasaki Racing, 23rd2011:
World Superbike Championship, Kawasaki SRT, 11th 2010:
World Supersport Championship, Kawasaki Motocard.com, 3rd (1 win) 2009:
World Supersport Championship, Kawasaki Motocard.com, 4th (1 win) 2008:
World Supersport Championship, Glaner Motocard.com Honda, 5th (1 win) 2007:
World Supersport Championship, Glaner Motocard.com Honda, 18th2006:
Spanish CEV Supersport Championship, Glaner Castrol Honda, 4th
World Supersport Championship (1 race), CRS Honda, N/A2005:
Spanish CEV Supersport Championship, Glaner Castrol Honda, 6th
World Supersport Championship (1 race), Glaner Castrol Honda, N/A