Motor Cycling: Spencer's return ruled out

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The Independent Online
THE HOPES of a comeback by former world champion Freddie Spencer at tomorrow's Suzuka eight-hour endurance race ended when he broke bones in both hands in a high-speed crash.

The 37-year-old former 500cc and 250cc champion, who had not raced competitively for four years, was thrown off his Honda during Thursday's free practice session. "He thought it was just cuts and bruises but he had a suspicion that it might be worse," said a Honda team spokesman yesterday.

Spencer lost control of the front end on a fast right-hand bend at around 100mph, tried to correct the situation and was flipped off as the back wheel let go. "He went out again and said that he couldn't really grab the brake levers properly," said the spokesman.

A team doctor discovered that Spencer, whose attempted comebacks in the past have all been ended by injury, had broken a bone in his right hand and the little finger of his left hand.

Spencer had been due to partner the former world superbike and 250cc champion John Kocinski in the race and will now be replaced by the local rider Yuichi Takeda. His team spokesman suggested that Spencer could have competed had it been a regular grand prix or superbike race, but the fact that he would have to be on the bike for a total of four hours made his involvement impossible.