Marco Melandri (Barrni Ducati), Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) and Leandro Mercado (Motocorsa Racing Ducati) – a return of the man with the number 11 to the WSBK is as questionable as for one of the other two drivers in the picture (© WorldSBK)

Sandro and the hope of returning to racing

I am finally free of pain,” Cortese stated. “I had a tough end to last year with many months in recovery and rehabilitation and also at the beginning of this year. I couldn’t do a lot of sports, but now I can always exercise more. I have yet to do another operation to take out the stabilizing plates, possibly in April. There was another check in December and everything looks fine, but I haven’t recovered 100%. Doctors said I had to come back in late February or early March, and then we can make an appointment for the surgery to remove the plates. The plate is not painful, but can be uncomfortable in some positions.

Sandro Cortese in the sanatorium on the edge of the Bavarian Alps, at the beginning of his rehab. The young man in the picture did not look properly restored (© WorldSBK).

Where and how should the comeback work?

„If you look at the teams, this year it’s going to be very difficult to race. All good places are taken, and now I will focus on my full recovery and see what the future holds. I am very grateful to be still alive, to walk normally, and to enjoy normal life again. Of course, I miss races a lot and I wish everything had happened differently. But when you have had such a difficult time and such a severe accident, you are simply grateful to have recovered afterwards. According to the doctors, I was very close about to sit in a wheelchair. My wish is to get on a motorcycle with a competitive team. I am 31 years young and not too old to race. So if I can come back with a competitive team, with competitive machines, I’ll do it.“

Max Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) in front of Noriyuki “Nitro Nori” Haga on the Yamaha R1 – the Saxon had suffered a terrible fall in Monza 2009. This cost him the rest of the season and after his return he never found his way back to his old form. For more about the earlier years see our history and the current series from the beginnings of the WSBK to today (© WorldSBK).

No more free space and the question of the head

With Cortese’s statements, it becomes clear that he talks a lot about wishes, but that he probably doesn’t really believe in a return anymore. In his words there is no such irrepressible will to want to prove it again, as is usual with a hungry racing driver. Don’t forget, Sandro had a huge chance after his surprising Supersport 600 title with Kallio Racing Yamaha in WorldSBK. In the end, however, like his teammate Melandri, he did not really meet expectations. If you look back in the early post-war years, when only the first 6 drivers received points, it would not look good at all for Sandro would in 2019 only had 1 point by the standards at that time. Like Tom Sykes on the BMW, he was often good on a fast lap, but there were no points for that. But when riders returns after such a serious injury, then many team bosses doubt their aggressiveness.

Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha) photographed by us on the grid in BuriRam 2019. His successor Federico Caricasulo also lost his place after poor performance, while rookie Garrett Gerloff on the same team got stronger and stronger over the course of the 2020 season, despite the fact that the tracks were all new to him.

Jonas Folger – the “new” hope of the German fans

After Jonas Folger made his comeback in the near-series World Cup with a full liter displacement with a BMW, fortunately no German is missing from the starting line-up. Perhaps this makes it even more difficult for Sandro to find a place. In any case, Folger’s entry into a BMW and Dominique Aegerter’s WorldSSP debut season in German-speaking countries has definitely attracted a lot of attention again. Against this background, even the announced return of “Krummi” faded. Either way, one thing is certain: the chances for a comeback for Cortese are definitely not good.

Sandro Cortese photographed in front of Xavi Fores (both Kawasaki) by us on March 1, 2020 in Phillip Island (Australia) – the Spaniard was the best private driver only a few years ago and is in very good health. Even so, he lost his place in WorldSBK and with this in mind, the hope of a return could remain a pipe dream for Sandro.

The modified provisional calendar for 2021

After Assen has been postponed to July, it will start in May at the earliest. Above all, the overseas dates are currently in question. In addition, the hoped-for permission for spectators on the route, which was to be expected since the outbreak of the pandemic. The dream of a speedy return to normal is an illusion. Nevertheless, there is justified hope for an exciting WorldSBK season in 2021. Most of the drivers are in the middle of training and, as happened with Alex Lowes recently, there can be a few minor injuries. But let’s keep our fingers crossed that Sandro will be completely healthy and that there won’t be another such serious accident in the future.