Team Ixion Crash Report

Rider: Roger Ford
Bike: Aprilia 1000 Mille

Track: Brands Hatch
Date: 9th June 2002

Here we go again. A smashed leg - and this time it's probably all over.

Paddock Hill Bend - 1, Aprilia Mille - 0

Videos of the crash

Let's step back a few months. I'm at Brands Hatch. It's a Bemsee club meeting, the day before an MRO round. I'm feeling good because it's soon after the Lydden round where I qualified second and ended up in fourth - just shy of the podium for the first time ever.

Being a Bemsee round, I don't have previous form, so I get gridded in a lowly 18th place. But I get a great start for once, and I'm in fourth place by Graham Hill Bend on the first lap. Then, in spite of being on slick tyres and the rain starting to come down, I make it up into second place, just behind David Tyler on his tuned 998 Ducati.

The second race is just as impressive, and I finish in another second place. I'm feeling good, feeling comfortable on the bike and feeling I could go even faster if I wanted to. The last time I felt like this round Brands was a few years back on my TZ. Everything seemed to be coming together, only that time it ended when I broke my right femur. I guess I should have got the premonitions this time.


So it's MRO day, and I'm confident. Maybe now I'm up for a podium place at last. It's qualifying, and I head out at the front of the pack to get a clear run. But we've been sitting for a while, so I need to take it a bit easy on the first couple of laps to warm my tyres properly. Unfortunately, this gives Daz Jones and Paul Beasley a chance to come past, and they when my tyres are warmed after a lap they're blocking me and going slower than I want to go. Getting past doesn't seem easy, so I hang back a bit and decide to try to catch them up on the next lap. That gives me a target to go for. Unfortunately, I try to make up the entire distance at Paddock bend.

I've left the braking too late, and have to tip the bike in, still on the brakes. I'm running wide, which puts me onto the dirty off-line area. This, together with the still cool front tyre, is too much, and the front tucks.

For a moment it seems OK as we slide smoothly across the tarmac, but then we hid the kerb and the gravel and the bike and I both start to flip.

The moment I stop I know I've broken my leg again. There's no real pain, but my foot feels like it's trying to rise into the air of its own accord.

Red flags ... medics ... ambulance ... hospital - the familiar ritual clicks into gear. Oh, and the pain. Lots of that after the initial pain-free period, in spite of the gas-and-air and later pethidine injections.

The first few days after a major accident aren't too bad. OK, it hurts, but you've got loads of people fussing after you, lots of sympathy, lots of visitors - and it's all quite a novel experience.

But that was five months ago now, and my leg's still not better. I've hardly been able to do anything this summer, and neither have I been able to support Jan properly as she prepares to deliver our second child.

I still think motorcycle racing is the greatest thrill around. And I'd love to keep going. But I'm getting on a bit (I was 40 a few weeks after this crash) and don't bounce as well as I used to. But mainly I'm fed up with losing whole summers to recovering from accidents, and I think it's time to retire.

I've had a great time in racing. I won a championship, and came close to a couple of others. I got pole position - and second overall - at the Lord of Lydden, and qualified second in an MRO National. But mainly I've met loads of really good mates, and had enjoyed the cameraderie of what has to be the best bike racing club in Britain, if not the world.

I've not yet burned my bridges - I still have the bike and the transporter, but I can't really see myself campaigning properly next year. I am hoping to do some endurance races, so won't be packing it in completely, but I reckon my sprint-racing days are over.

I do have some vague plans involving four wheels, but there's no telling yet whether that'll actually come off or not. So don't give up checking the web site...