The saga of rehabilitating Chris Vermeulen’s knee continues this weekend at the second round of the World Superbike season. The Australian will participate in the practice and qualifying sessions beginning Friday at Donington Park, but he may sit out the races on Sunday.
This news comes after Vermeulen missed the season opener and winter testing at Phillip Island because his knee has not recovered as quickly as planned, and it was hoped that skipping his home race would allow Vermeulen time to recover enough to race the rest of this season, but it seems the Australian and his factory Kawasaki team are taking this weekend one session at a time.
The former MotoGP rider spent some time testing at Motorland Aragon in Spain last week (where compatriot James Toseland fractured his wrist, forcing him to sit out this WSBK weekend) and just yesterday spent some more time on the seat riding around Cadwell Park. After this most recent outing, Vermeulen tweeted, “was great to get back on the bike but still work to do on my knee to be race fit.”
Currently, Vermeulen and Paul Bird Racing are not too optimistic about the chances of actually racing this weekend. Vermeulen said Thursday, “We have decided to ride this weekend but to look at it as a test; not only for my knee but to get some information on the bike, to ride the new generation Pirellis and just get out there on track and see how it goes. If it goes well we will race, but at this stage races may be quite difficult.”
Vermeulen also noted, “From my doctor’s point of view I am improving well, but I should just be increasing my riding step-by-step. I rode yesterday at Cadwell Park in England, did about 30 laps in total on the Ninja ZX-10R, and it felt really good. My speed was OK but I was not going to break any lap records. My knee started to swell up afterwards so we rested it up.”
According to the team, Vermeulen will compete completely at Assen and will be fully competitive by Monza in early May, though the tenor of his personal tweets seem to be far less enthusiastic than earlier in his recovery. Vermeulen had joined the team for winter testing in Sepang, but returned to Australia after less than a day on the bike. Both of Vermeulen’s teammates, Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes, have participated in all of the team’s tests and are fully fit for racing.
Source: Kawasaki Racing