BRAVE motorcyclist Howie Mainwaring has been ruled out of action after trying to race with a broken neck.
The former Woodford Lodge pupil suffered the injury a month ago when he crashed his MV Augusta machine during a qualifying lap on the 166mph Lesmo bend at Italy's famous Monza circuit.
Despite landing heavily and being unable to line-up in his World Supersport 1,000 Championship race, Mainwaring believed there was no serious damage and flew home to prepare for his next outing, a National Superstock event at Snetterton.
He realised something was seriously wrong after just one lap of the Norfolk circuit.
Mainwaring, 21, said: 'I was aching all week and I felt really rough, but I went to Snetterton to see how it was because I didn't want to miss a race.
'It took two people to get me into my leathers and one to help me onto the bike.
'We joked that we would have to lash my hands to the handlebars to keep me on!
'I went round on a practice lap and when I couldn't straighten up after the last bend I knew it wasn't safe.'
A subsequent trip to hospital revealed Mainwaring had had a lucky escape.
X-rays showed that he had completely ripped a major ligament in his shoulder and cracked a vertebrae in his neck.
'It was bad,' said Mainwaring, who is nicknamed 'The Hurricane' by fans for his daring racing style.
'The crack was already healing after a week but if I had ridden, the stresses of racing could have made the break a lot worse.
'My shoulder is worse. I have been told it is the most painful upper-body injury you can sustain and I believe that. It is a gony.'
Mainwaring's team, MV Augusta want him riding in another World Supersport race before the end of the season.
But first he must return to the National Superstocks and amazingly he has already set his sights on a comeback at his home circuit, Oulton Park, on July 14/15.
His dad Steve, a British Superbike contemporary of the late Barry Sheene, said: 'It is frustrating for Howie to be stuck at home.
'His crew are down as well because they all enjoy working together and they say they want him back as soon as possible.'
The family are formerly of Weaverham.