Sadly, one of the memorable moments of the 2012 World Superbike season reminded everyone watching of the dangers associated with motorcycle racing. Kawasaki Racing Team’s Joan Lascorz suffered a traumatic fall during post-race testing at Imola following the second round of competition, and was rushed to Hospital Magiore de Bologna with fractured vertebrae.
The next day Lascorz underwent surgery to stabilize a fractured C6 vertebrae, but it was also discovered that the injury had caused spinal damage. Doctors declined to speak to the extent of the injury at the time but close to 18 days after the incident, Lascorz, by then fully conscious, remained in intensive care. Respiratory problems caused by excessive build-up of mucus in his lungs kept Lascorz in ICU for an additional week but nearly a month after the crash he was moved to the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the University Hospital Vall d’Hebron.
Soon after doctors removed respiratory assistance and Lascorz was fully aware, without mental damage and had feeling in his arms and hands. Unfortunately, there was no feeling in his legs or abdominal area.Lascorz remained hospitalized through the summer and by the end of August was fully engaged in a recovery program. Guim Roda, Kawasaki Racing Team Manager, offered this explanation of the incident that lead to Lascorz’s condition, “Joan lost control of the bike when entering a right-hander in fifth gear after a long straight, with the front wheel slightly off the ground. Returning this to contact the asphalt at high speed just by tilting the bike, Joan lost control of the bike and went off track. He had just made a batch of good lap times and was about to lower the fastest lap of the day against all riders on the track.”
Lascorz also provided comments in late August, “What happened to me is a shame. I’m not sure if it was bad luck or that conditions in Imola were not suitable for a 240 HP bike. In any case, it is undoubtedly a full stop for my career as a SBK racer, and a period in my life. It’s a very difficult situation and I have to be very strong to go ahead. I want to thank for the endless support I’m getting: all motorcycle riders both in SBK and MotoGP, and all the other categories. I also want to thank all the racing fans, and the amateur and professional bikers that have shown me examples of their affection. Albert Llovera, Filippo Preziosi, Oscar Lanza, Isidre Esteve and Pau Bach visits and conversations have been invaluable to me. I want to thank the countless doctors and nurses that have taken care of me, from the SBK Clinica Mobile, at the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna. Thanks to the UCI and the spinal injuries unit of Vall d’Hebron and here in the Guttmann: In all these places, I have been treated like a king. Thanks also to the Catalan and Spanish Federation of Motorcycling and all the support I am having from Panthera wheelchairs, and above all, to all my family, my father Juan who is having a tough time, almost worse than me, my mother Maribel, my brothers and sisters, uncles, cousins, friends and teammates they have all been at any time with me.
“Once out of the Guttman, I will deeply rethink my life and look for economic resources to suit my situation since it is not that easy. I will have to find new goals to continue enjoying life, but certainly not with the same intensity as it has been.
“Sometimes I feel a great sadness for how quickly it changed, all because of that wall. And I have many thoughts in my head about what happened. Sometimes I think with optimism and what the future holds. I have to do a lot of re-learning. It was not easy to reach the level I was at and it was the result of much effort by all those who have made it possible. From when I stopped delivering pizzas at age 18 with a 50cc bike and began my career as a rider… It’s a very sad injustice but I have to face it in the best way possible. It is a type of injury that not only keeps you away from racing, but marks you for life and that’s something I’m going to live with forever .”