With his knee injury and subsequent recovery has taken far longer than expected, Chris Vermeulen took another step forward today in his attempt to properly return to World Superbike racing. The Australian rode Thursday at Parcmotor Castelloli in Spain, just before a Kawasaki festival being held at the circuit this weekend. However Vermeulen was not testing the WSBK Kawasaki ZX-10R, but instead riding a Ninja ZX-6R, the reasoning of which he explained on Twitter as: “Had a good ride on the supersport bike today a little less physical than my bike but did 40laps and knee did ok.”
Though Vermeulen has been plagued with a slow recovery, he did participate in some of the practice and qualifying sessions of the second round of World Superbike racing at Donington Park last month. However, he sat out both races at Donington, in addition to missing the season opening round at Phillip Island. Since then, Vermeulen has been slowly working his way back into the full-season ride he has with the factory Kawasaki team run by Paul Bird Racing.
Vermeulen tweeted on Wednesday, “Had a good days training in the gym with Ruben Xaus then been swimming and knee feels ok. Will ride a 600 at Castelloli Spain tomorrow,” and so far has been optimistic throughout his recovery time, testing for a day with the team at Sepang, testing before Donington at Motorland Aragon, and participating in the Friday sessions at Donington.
Before Donington, Vermeulen said, “From my doctor’s point of view I am improving well, but I should just be increasing my riding step-by-step.” The next WSBK round at Assen begins in barely more than a week, and though Vermeulen and the team have been adamant that he would race in the Netherlands, the events so far this season may prove them wrong. Meanwhile, teammate Joan Lascorz spent both races at Donington near the front, finishing an impressive fifth in the second race, and showing an improvement in the Kawasaki’s pace while Vermeulen has been recovering.