After failing to pass a fitness test, Chris Vermeulen’s knee injury continues to hobble his racing, as the Australian will miss both the test and opening round of the World Superbike Championship series this week/weekend at Phillip Island. Vermeulen coincidentally injured his knee last year while racing at PI, missing most of the 2010 season as a result. The Australian’s recovery has taken longer than expected, with just recently his injury forcing him to return home after just one day’s worth of riding with his Paul Bird Kawasaki teammates Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes at Sepang.
After Vermeulen’s departure from Sepang, Team Manager Paul Risbridger said, “After day one we all decided that he did not need to run on track any more at this stage and it was better for him to go home and carry on with his rehabilitation. We also came to a consensus that there was no point in him coming all the way back to Europe for the Portimao tests, as it would just interrupt his overall recovery.” Since then, little has been heard regarding Vermeulen’s rehabilitation. Just two days ago, he seemed ready for action, tweeting, “Had a quick cycle this morning now packing and off to Philip Island, start testing monday, can’t wait!”
Apparently once at Phillip Island, Vermeulen failed his physical, and is not capable of competing at Phillip Island, nor capable of providing information during the test. He will again be replaced by test rider Akira Yanagawa, who filled in for Vermeulen during the latter half of the 2010 season. As of now, Yanagawa will only replace Vermeulen for this week and weekend. Presumably the extra month between now and the second round of the WSBK season at Donington Park will give the Australian enough time to recover and return to racing, though his recovery to date does not appear to be “quite a bit ahead of what the doctors expected,” as Vermeulen said it was after Sepang.