Tortelli’s Supercross Season in Jeopardy

Henny Ray Abrams | March 31, 2001

The 2001 AMA/EA Sports Supercross season may be over for American Honda’s Sebastien Tortelli after the Frenchman punctured his knee in a practice crash at the St. Louis Supercross.

“At this point in time, since Sebastien missed a couple of races earlier in the year, we’ll get it fixed up, evaluate it,” American Honda team manager Chuck Miller said. “Chances are, he’ll miss a couple of rounds, maybe even until the outdoor season. Kind of evaluate it on a week by week point.”

Tortelli crashed in a whoop section during practice in the Trans World Dome, puncturing his knee just below the kneecap. Miller said that both of Tortelli’s knees had hit the handlebars, bending the bars, and the team thought he caught his knee on a footpeg.

The cut was deep enough to cause concern, so Tortelli was taken to nearby St. Louis University Medical Center. When he arrived, Tortelli was told it would be 3 ½ to four hours before he could be treated, so he returned to the Dome, thinking he might ride. A physician at the track took a look at the wound and recommended that he return to the hospital, which he did, though it was a different hospital which offered immediate care.

“The tendon that holds the kneecap on, as he (the doctor) opened it up, he could see that that tendon also had a cut in it,” American Honda’s Miller said. “It wasn’t cut through, but he said when a tendon gets cut, you need to go have a specialist go in and suture that and tie the rest of that together.”

The hospital dressed the wound so that Tortelli could fly back to California on Sunday morning, where he was to have his personal physician tend to the injured knee.

It hasn’t been a kind season to the French Supercross forces. Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Stephane Roncada is day to day, still suffering from bruised heels and ankles, the legacy of his Daytona Supercross get-off. Yamaha’s David Vuillemin was next to go, breaking his collarbone at the Minneapolis Supercross. Vuillemin returned to France where he’ll recover for the next few weeks. And now Tortelli.

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.