Sandro Cortese retires two years after WorldSBK crash that nearly paralysed him

Moto3 and WorldSSP Champion Sandro Cortese announces he is retiring almost two years after sustaining serious injuries in a WorldSBK crash at Portimao

Sandro Cortese

2012 Moto3 World Champion Sandro Cortese has formally announced he is retiring from motorsport, almost two years after sustaining serious back injuries in an accident while competing in the WorldSBK Championship.

The German has been out of action since Round 3 of the 2020 WorldSBK Championship at Portimao when a high-speed crash from his Pedercini Kawasaki on the final lap of Race 1 left him with a series of serious injuries that almost cost him the use of his legs.

Suffering a fracture of the sixth thoracic vertebra, a torn lateral ligament in his right knee, a broken right tibial plateau, a fractured foot and a collapsed lung, Cortese embarked on months of rehabilitation with a view to returning to racing at some stage.

However, the 32-year-old has now decided to take a step back and focus on other commitments, which include him joining the Servus TV commentary team and rider tuition.

Despite the disappointment of ending his career so abruptly, Cortese is under no illusion he is lucky to still be walking.

“It was only thanks to first-class care in Portimao and the emergency operation in Faro that I escaped from paraplegia,” he told Speedweek. "I think about it every day and I'm infinitely grateful and happy to still be able to lead a normal life. 

“But on the other hand I'm a bit sad that I had to end my career so abruptly after this accident. Thanks to the unconditional support of my family, girlfriend and friends, I was always fine during this difficult time. Since the fall, my body hasn't been as resilient as it used to be, and it took many months of rehab to be able to walk reasonably pain-free again.”

A front runner of the GP racing scene, Cortese made history as the winner of the inaugural Moto3 World Championship in 2012, while he scored podiums at Moto2 level too.

A switch to the WorldSSP Championship in 2018 yielded the title in his rookie season, prompting a switch to WorldSBK for 2019 with GRT Yamaha, finishing 12th overall. He was in the midst of a top ten achieving start to the season with Pedercini Kawasaki at the time of his accident.

"I look back on a career that I would never have dreamed of. For 16 years I was allowed to live the dream of a racing driver and be part of the MotoGP scene as well as the Supersport and Superbike World Championship. 

“My dream continues because I remain true to racing. I will be part of the ServusTV and Yamaha family with great enthusiasm again this year. In addition, there is a new task with my long-term sponsor, the Gutmann Group, which I am looking forward to.

“A big thank you to all of you, dear friends, fans, partners and sponsors. You have always supported me and lived my dream with me."