Michael Rutter’s participation at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in May has been placed in doubt after the Honda TT Legends rider sustained a broken leg in a crash during testing in France.
The 40-year-old was taking part in a pre-season shakedown with Honda’s Endurance World Championship riders John McGuinness and Simon Andrews at the Mireval circuit, which is owned by tyre manufacturer Dunlop.
Rutter broke his tibia above the ankle joint in the accident on Sunday and has returned to the UK for further treatment.
Rutter said: “It didn’t feel too bad at first and I was walking around after the crash but we thought it was best to get an X-ray done just to be sure.
“That revealed a crack at the base of my tibia near the ankle joint. I was given crutches and a temporary cast so I can get back to the UK and get it sorted out,” he added.
“Hopefully it won’t take too long to heal and I’ll be back on the bike as soon as possible.”
Isle of Man TT star McGuinness, plus Simon Andrews and Northern Ireland’s Michael Dunlop travelled on to Albacete in Spain to take part in an official Dunlop tyre test, which gets under way today.
Rutter’s misfortune has further increased the chances of roads star Dunlop being drafted into the Endurance World Championship line-up, with the opening round of the series - the Bol d’Or 24-hour meeting at Magny-Cours in France - taking place on April 20/21.
The 24-year-old, who was signed by team boss Neil Tuxworth to contest the Superbike races at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT, had already been linked to a place in the EWC line-up after Cameron Donald left the Legends team by mutual agreement last week in order to spend more time with his family in Australia.
Honda has so far remained tight-lipped over whether or not Donald will be replaced in the team.
Last night, NW200 event director, Mervyn Whyte MBE, told the News Letter Rutter’s potential absence from the grid at the event in May would be a ‘blow’.
“The news is certainly a blow, but we are roughly nine weeks away from the North West 200 itself so I would be hopeful that come that stage he would be back in the saddle,” said Whyte.
“But you never know with injuries like this and we’ll have to wait and see what information comes out once the surgeons have had a look at it.”