“I’m lucky to be alive and to walk again” - Sandro Cortese

Moto3 and WorldSSP champion Sandro Cortese will walk again after revealing he is lucky to be alive following a serious WorldSBK accident at Portimao

Sandro Cortese - Pedercini Kawasaki

Double motorcycle World Champion Sandro Cortese says he is ‘lucky to be alive’ after revealing the extent of the injuries he sustained in a frightening WorldSBK crash at Portimao last month.

The German rider - a Moto3 and WorldSSP champion - crashed on the final lap of the opening WorldSBK race at Portimao, with the seriousness of the accident revealed when it emerged he was airlifted to hospital and had to undergo emergency surgery.

The crash - which wasn’t caught by cameras - left him with a broken vertebrae, broken ribs, a torn ligament in his knee and cracked foot.

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Now back home in Germany, Cortese - who was racing for the Pedercini Kawasaki team - has spoken at length about the impact of his back injury, saying not only is he fortunate to have not been paralysed, but doctors told him he’s lucky to be alive.

“I had the surgery in Faro on my back and they stabilised it with screws,” he said. “The vertebrae need to heal well, so that’s what they did to help that. After one week, they flew me to Germany to have an operation on my knee which was on a ligament and the muscle was very damaged. I also had five broken ribs and a small crack on my right foot. There was quite a lot of blood in my lungs too.”

“The first two and a half weeks were really painful. I couldn’t really sleep or move because of the ribs. Now, it is getting better day by day and I am thankful. The whole body still has a lot of pain and I’ve made a lot of tests for the vertebrae, nerve tests, to see how big the injury is. The main positive is that there’s nothing that’s damaged that won’t heal. With time, the body will recover.

“For sure, I will not race again in 2020 because the season ends in six weeks. I need to wait two more weeks until I can start to walk slowly with crutches, then another four weeks until I can start to walk normally. 

“My whole body is not athletically prepared for racing motorcycles at the moment either; I lost a lot of muscles as for more than a month, I have not been moving my legs. It will take three to four months to heal and then, we will go back to the hospital to see how the back is and make more x-rays.”

“I am very thankful, to be honest. The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and I have to thank God that, although it is the biggest injury of my career, I will be able to walk normally again in the near future.”

Cortese made his WorldSBK debut in 2019 with the GRT Yamaha team after clinching the WorldSSP title a year earlier, before moving to the privateer Kawasaki squad for 2020.