The final test of 2016 for the World Superbike class has already lost two of its participants. Both Ten Kate Honda's Michael van der Mark and Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes have been forced to withdraw from the test due to injury.
Lowes suffered a dislocated shoulder when he fell heavily at Turn 3 on Wednesday, crashing in the late afternoon. Though he walked away from that crash, and quickly had his dislocated shoulder put into place, a painful shoulder and restricted movement meant there was little sense in continuing. Lowes has returned to the UK for medical treatment, with the objective of being completely fit when testing resumes next year.
What happened to Michael van der Mark is a little more mysterious. The Honda Pro Racing organization posted a brief update on its Facebook page, adding little detail to Van der Mark's withdrawal. Van der Mark was suffering with pain in his right arm on Wednesday, which given his times on the day (Van der Mark was over a second slower than his new teammate Nicky Hayden) appear to have severely affected his speed. Van der Mark has now flown north seeking treatment, and will see a specialist in Antwerp, Belgium for further examinations.
Testing continues at Jerez for both the MotoGP and World Superbike classes today and tomorrow. Below is the press release issued by Yamaha on Alex Lowes' injury:
Early Exit for Lowes from Final Jerez Test
The Pata Yamaha World Superbike Team has withdrawn Alex Lowes from the final two days of winter testing at the Circuito de Jerez, in Spain, after yesterday's late afternoon high-side caused a dislocation to his left shoulder.
Early indications track-side concluded no serious damage after the dislocation was corrected by the swift actions of the circuit medical staff. However, with severely compromised movement and a speedy recovery his prime motivation, the British rider flew back to the UK this morning to seek specialist treatment.
Wednesday saw Lowes accomplish a full day of testing with his new WSBK-spec YZF-R1, completing 77 laps as he worked through a large raft of test items and electronic control strategies. The data collected will allow his technicians to continue to fine-tune his Yamaha machine in his absence, with a return to action scheduled for the New Year.
Teammate Sylvain Guintoli will continue to spearhead the Japanese marque's presence on track for the remaining two days at the Andalucían circuit, having already amassed 63 laps in the opening day.
"I'm disappointed not to be able to continue testing, as we have been doing a great job in understanding the YZF-R1 and developing my own riding style to suit it over the past few weeks. We were unlucky with the weather at Aragon so I was looking forward to a full three days of good conditions at Jerez to really get down to business. It wasn't to be, and my priority needs to be my fitness and rehabilitation after the crash yesterday, but we have been making some good progress so I'm pleased with the development so far. I felt really good on the bike yesterday and was able to be fast and consistent, I just made a small mistake - and perhaps got caught out by the drop in temperature at the end of the day - and it resulted in a pretty big crash!
The guys have done a great job this month and I know they will continue their hard work without me, now I just need to focus on getting back to 100% so we can be in the best possible position for the January tests and ready for Phillip Island."