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Superbike champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne talks about breaking neck in crash

By John Nurden

British Superbike champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne has talked for the first time about the horror crash which shattered his spine and broke his neck.

The former Sittingbourne Borden Grammar schoolboy was speaking at his home at Eastchurch, Sheppey, where he lives with his model wife Petra and their two young children Zack and Lilly.

Shane, affectionately dubbed 'Shakey' by fans because many of his earlier attempts ended with him on the ground, is now considering whether to return to the racetrack he loves so much.

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne with the steel ‘halo’ he now has to wear
Shane 'Shakey' Byrne with the steel ‘halo’ he now has to wear

Talking to trade paper MCN (Motorcycle News) the 41-year-old revealed: "My spine opened up like a tin of beans.

"The surgeon told me he could fix it by putting all the broken vertebrae back together and attaching a titanium plate to bridge the gap so everything would heal perfectly.

"But with my spinal cord dangling about (he warned) it was a risky procedure."

Britain's most successful motorcycle racer has held the Superbike title a record six times, winning in 2016 and 2017.

He had set his sights on a hat-trick this year. But fate had other ideas when his Ducati bike smashed into a safety barrier at Snetterden during a practice lap on May 17.

The force broke his back, neck, chest bone, collarbone and most of his ribs.

Shakey in hospital after the crash
Shakey in hospital after the crash

He recalled: "I hit the wall head first. My head was pushed back and that's what did the damage to my neck."

But he added: "All things considered, I'm doing really well. I'm at home with my family and I can walk, which is pretty incredible when you realise the extent of my injuries.

"Even the surgeon said he was astonished I wasn't paralysed, although he told me he couldn't guarantee I'd come out of surgery without paralysis."

A steel 'halo' was bolted to his skull to keep his bones still as they mend.

It will be three months before doctors know if it has worked.

In his interview he admitted: "When I woke up from the op and realised I wasn't paralysed I was so relieved.

Shakey is a six-time British superbike champion
Shakey is a six-time British superbike champion

"From that point, I decided it didn't matter what happened as I could be a dad and lead a normal life.

"Do I want to ride again? Of course. But ultimately it might never happen.

"The only thing I wanted was to be world champion. Even if I come back fit and healthy I know I'm not going to get the opportunity to do that.

"But being told you might be paralysed puts things in perspective. Do I really care if someone beats my 85 BSB wins or six titles? "Not really. But at present, there's no one close."

He and Petra have kept fans up to date with his progress by posting on his Twitter account and Instagram page.

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