The Portuguese Grand Prix got off to a painful and slightly embarrassing start for Kawasaki's Alex Hofmann when the 24-year-old German crashed his Ninja ZX-RR during an exhibition ride at Estoril's seafront Casino on Wednesday afternoon.
Hofmann joined fellow riders Alex Barros, Makoto Tamada, Pablo Nieto, Casey Stoner and Mika Kallio, for a short demonstration ride in front of a small, but enthusiastic crowd in the centre of Estoril, to promote this weekend's race at the Autodromo Fernanda Pires da Silva, which is located on the outskirts of the resort town.
A brief demonstration by the two-stroke contingent went off without any problems but the power of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR caught Hofmann out as he started his return run on the short demonstration course.
The Kawasaki rider got on the gas a little too early as he prepared for the run back up the hill to the casino, with the result that the back of the bike span up on the slippery road surface and unceremoniously flicked him over the high side, much to the astonishment of the watching crowd and television crews.
"I don't know what happened," declared Hofmann. "I didn't get on the gas that hard, but the rear still came round on me without any warning. I guess it was just a combination of cold tyres and a slippery road. It's bad enough crashing at any time, but to do it at 40 kph during a demonstration parade is incredibly embarrassing. I didn't want to take my helmet off in front of the crowd, because they'd have been able to see how red my face was!"
"And if crashing in front of a crowd wasn't bad enough, there were also quite a few television crews in attendance. Most of the people in the paddock had already seen the crash on television before I'd even got back to the track, so I know I'm going to have to put up with a few jokes at my expense this weekend."
While damage to his Ninja ZX-RR was limited to a broken footrest and a few scratches on the fairing, Hofmann hit his left hand hard on the floor during the crash and was later diagnosed as having cracked two small bones in his wrist by staff at the Clinica Mobile.
"I just can't believe my bad luck. Other riders have had much bigger crashes during testing and have walked away unscathed. Even Shakey Byrne only suffered a bruised head after crashing his scooter at 50 kph, despite not having any protective gear on at the time. This was my first crash since the opening round at Welkom last season, but I manage to crack two bones in my hand falling off at almost walking pace. Unbelievable."
"I went over the top of the bike and hit my left hand quite hard on the ground. My wrist is quite sore and swollen at the moment, but I'm hoping that resting it today will mean it's okay for the start of practice tomorrow," added the bruised, but upbeat, Kawasaki rider.