Kawasaki's Alex Hofmann will not race in this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril after being diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid in his left wrist, sustained in a crash during a pre-event promotion in Estoril on Wednesday afternoon.
The 24-year-old German rider was taking part in an organised MotoGP parade at Estoril's seafront casino when he was highsided from his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR and landed heavily on his wrist.
Initially it was thought that Hofmann had only suffered bruising and swelling, but an x-ray taken today, once the swelling had reduced sufficiently, confirmed that the Kawasaki rider had fractured his scaphoid, together with another small bone in his wrist.
Unable to grip the handlebars of his Ninja ZX-RR properly as a result of the injury, the Kawasaki Racing Team made the decision to withdraw Hofmann from the event, rather than risking further injury by him riding when not fully fit.
Understandably, given his impressive performance in the opening race of the season at Jerez just five days ago, Hofmann is devastated not to be racing this weekend.
"I am so disappointed and frustrated," declared Hofmann. "After last weekend's result at Jerez, I was so looking forward to coming here and scoring another good finish. I just can't believe that a silly mistake during a promotional event has left me unable to race this weekend, and facing a real fight back to fitness for the next race in China."
"If there were any way I could race then I'd definitely be out there, but the scaphoid fracture makes it difficult to hold the handlebars at a standstill, never mind at race pace. Estoril is a very physical track and my wrist simply isn't up to the job of muscling the bike around here."
"Too many top racers have ended their careers through coming back too early after fracturing their scaphoid, which is why we decided that the best course of action would be to withdraw from this weekend's race, rather than risk further injury. Although I'm devastated to be missing the Portuguese Grand Prix, I need to put this weekend behind me and focus completely on getting myself back to full fitness for the race in Shanghai in two weeks' time," added a very dejected Hofmann.
"For a motorcycle racer, a fractured scaphoid is a serious injury," explained Kawasaki Team Coordinator, Michael Bartholemy. "It leaves the rider unable to grip the handlebars properly and makes controlling a bike as powerful as the Ninja ZX-RR at such a physical circuit as Estoril very difficult indeed."
"Also, if the scaphoid doesn't heal properly then it can cause problems for a rider in the future. Obviously we want Alex to recover fully from this injury, which is why we made the decision to withdraw him from this weekend's event, to give the fracture a better chance of healing before the next race."
The scaphoid bone is found on the thumb side of the hand, within the anatomical snuffbox (the hollow between thumb and index finger). Fractures to the scaphoid are common, especially amongst motorcycle racers, and are normally caused by falling on an outstretched hand and hyper-extending the wrist joint.
But scaphoid fractures are also particularly slow to heal due to poor circulation to the bone, and even a rapidly immobilised fracture can require surgery. Under normal circumstances, a fully immobilised scaphoid fracture takes between six and eight weeks to heal completely.