Team Suzuki has announced that factory AMA rider Sebastien Tortelli has been forced to withdraw from the 2004 AMA Supercross season, after requiring yet more surgery on his knee.

Tortelli has suffered a number of injuries to his left knee over the last five years - and missed most of the 2003 AMA Supercross and Motocross seasons while recovering from surgery - but will now sit out the 2004 edition of the former as well.

"It is very frustrating," admitted Tortelli, a former Motocross world champion. "I trained so hard and to not be able to race Supercross is very disappointing. I've spoken to the doctors and they are pretty sure they can fix my knee 100 percent. And I don't want to race if my knee isn't 100 percent.

"So right now, I'm focusing on the fact that the doctors think I'll make a full recovery. I'm willing to take the time necessary to recover so that I can race competitively again," added the Frenchman.

Tortelli will undergo surgery this week and hopes to return to racing midway through the 2004 AMA Motocross season.

"I really feel for Sebastien," said Suzuki Team Manager Roger DeCoster. "This is very disheartening. We tested Sebastien's physical fitness just a few weeks ago and he was stronger than he's ever been - on the level of an Olympic athlete. And now he has to have another surgery. It's frustrating, but of course Suzuki will stand by Sebastien and support him as he recovers."

Tortelli thus joins reigning champion Ricky Carmichael in missing the AMA Supercross series, which start next January in Anaheim, California.



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