North West 200: Injured Peter Hickman ruled out after crash
Lincolnshire rider Peter Hickman has been ruled out of the North West 200 after sustaining two broken ribs in a practice crash at Oulton Park.
The 27-year-old crashed at 150mph on the approach to Druids and has subsequently been diagnosed with two breaks of the C4 vertebrae in his neck.
Hickman was competing in the third round of the British Superbikes series.
He was the fastest newcomer at the North West last year, setting the fastest ever lap speed by a debutant.
The Louth rider is now targeting a return to action in time for the Isle of Man TT with his Briggs Equipment BMW team.
"It's deeply disappointing for Peter and everyone connected with the team that we'll be unable to take part in the North West 200 but his injuries from the crash are a little worse than we first thought," said team owner Lee Hardy.
"Having had such a good debut 12 months ago, Peter was obviously really looking forward to returning so we'd like to apologise to Mervyn and his team, as well as all the thousands of race fans that we won't be there in 2015."
"The goal now is to support Peter as best as we can and ensure he gets the best possible medical support with the aim of being ready for the TT.
"He needs to get as much rest and recuperation as he can and the final decision will ultimately lie with his surgeon but we're very hopeful of being ready for practice week at the Isle of Man."
Mervyn Whyte, Event Director of the North West 200 added: "It's obviously disappointing that Peter's not able to come to the North West 200 this year but his health and well-being has to come first and no-one wants his injuries to develop into anything worse.
"With him being the best newcomer in 2014, we were all very much looking forward to him returning as I have no doubt he would have made an even bigger impression this time around.
"These things happen in racing though and he's young enough to return to the event for many years to come so we'll look forward to welcoming him back in 2016."