There will be a huge Irish welcome waiting for Scottish rider Stuart Easton when practice begins at the Vauxhall International North West 200 on May 14.
Just two years after suffering serious injuries in a practice crash at Portstewart the Hawick rider will return to race on the North coast circuit for the Northern Ireland based Mar-Train Yamaha squad.
“I had a second place at the North West in 2010, the year before the crash, so there’s still a box to be ticked here and so I’m coming back to try to do it.” Stuart smiled as he visited the circuit on Tuesday.
“I am heading into the 2013 season good to go,” he explained. “And I’m as fit as I’ve ever been.”
His return to the North West start line signals the end of a remarkable recovery from the injuries he suffered in the 2011 accident for the diminutive Hawick rider, when he sustained a shattered pelvis, badly broken legs and internal injuries.
Stuart visited the doctors and nurses of Ward 5E at the Royal during his trip to Northern Ireland on Tuesday and he paid tribute to the medical staff who helped get him back.
“They were great,” he said. “They were all North West 200 fans and they were chuffed that I was in their ward! I was really well looked after.’
Stuart spent three months in hospital, first in the Royal and then in Edinburgh and in total he was out of action for ten months.
Although he has now made a complete recovery, having come back to race in the British Superbike championship in 2012, he still faces the mental challenge of returning to the North West course.
“I can honestly say that I now know what real pain is. It is unbelievable how much your body can take but I got through it. I’ve come back to the British championship racing and I’ve stood on a BSB podium since the crash so I know that I will be fine when I come back to race at the North West this May.”