Two-time World Superbike Champion James Toseland announced his immediate retirement from motorcycle racing due to a debilitating injury to his right wrist.
Signed with the BMW Motor Italia racing team, Toseland has been limited to just seven of 20 races in this season’s WSBK Championship due to the wrist injury initially suffered during a private test at Spain’s Aragon circuit in March. After undergoing an operation for the injury, Toseland made two attempts at returning to racing, first at the Miller Motorsports Park round in May and again at the Silverstone round in July.
The comeback was again cut short after crashing at the Sept. 2-4 round in Germany’s Nurburgring round. The crash re-aggravated Toseland’s injury, restricting the range of motion on his right wrist. According to BMW, the injury makes it difficult for Toseland to control the throttle and almost impossible for him to navigate right turns.
Toseland says he decided to retire because the injury makes it no longer safe for him to continue, not just for him, but for other racers as well. Toseland also says it isn’t fair for him to take up a seat on a WSBK team that would otherwise go to a younger, healthy and talented rider.
The 30-year-old Toseland first entered the WSBK Championship in 2001 riding a Ducati. Toseland finished 13th in that rookie season but improved to 7th in 2002 while scoring his first podium, a third-place finish at Assen.
Podiums came much more frequently in his third season as Toseland finished third in the 2002 WSBK Championship with his first win coming at Germany’s Oschersleben circuit. In 2004, Toseland won his first WSBK title, beating his Fila Ducati teammate Regis Laconi 336-327 at the top of the standings.
In 2006, Toseland signed onto the Ten Kate Honda race team, finishing second in the championship to Troy Bayliss. In his second year with Ten Kate, Toseland scored career highs in victories (8) and points (415) to win the 2007 WSBK title.
With a second WSBK title to his name, Toseland moved on to race in MotoGP, signing with the Tech 3 Yamaha team. Toseland wasn’t able to match the success he had in WSBK with Tech 3, finishing 11th and then 14th in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Int 2010, Toseland returned to WSBK with the Yamaha factory team.
Toseland’s career statistics include 16 wins and 57 podium finishes in WSBK. His 16 victories puts him into a tie with Neil Hodgson and Giancarlo Falappa, as well as active racers Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi for ninth in the all-time wins list.
Below is an open letter from Toseland to his fans published on his personal website.
I wanted to write you a personal letter to explain the factors that have forced my early retirement and to take the oportunity to thank you for all of the amazing support that you have given me throughout my career.
As you all know, I’ve had a tough time since injuring my right wrist during a testing crash at Aragon in Spain 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 Nurburgring in Germany, 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 was that it’s no longer safe for me to continue a career in motorcycle racing.
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.
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.
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 that I have done you proud.
[Source: BMW Motor Italia, JamesToseland.com]