Bike race superstar James Toseland has paid an emotional tribute to Wigan medics after life-changing revolutionary surgery.
The former double World motorcycle champion hopes to regain the use of his wrist for the first time in a decade following a pioneering operation at the famed Wrightington Hospital.
And this could now offer hope to others seriously injured in motorsport worldwide.
Consultant surgeon Mike Hayton removed four bones from his right wrist in a “complex two day” procedure.
These had been fused together by medics after a racing career-ending fall from his machine in 2011 in Spain.
But this has now been replaced with a ground-breaking new titanium ring-type structure on which the wrist can pivot.
Toseland said in a statement: “My surgeon, Mike Hayton, is an incredible guy.
“If you have an issue with your hand or wrist then he is your man!
“I want to say thank you so much to everyone at Wrightington Hospital who looked after me and my mum so well.”
Although Toseland now faces a long period of physiotherapy, there are increasing hopes that the surgery will give him back most of the movement in the wrist lost almost a decade ago.
The controls on the right of the handlebars on a racing motorcycle control the acceleration and braking functions. So while riders at the very top of the sport can afford some loss of flex and rotation in their left wrist, the right wrist needs to have approaching 100 per cent function to remain ultra competitive.
A spokesman for Wrightington Hospital, via the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Hospital Trust, said: “We are so happy that after two days of complex surgery by Consultant Mike Hayton, James Toseland can now move his wrist for the first time in eight years.
“We now wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he can get back on a motorbike soon.”
Toseland, originally from South Yorkshire, faced a difficult period out of the sport after the crash which signalled an end to one of the most successful racing careers in the history of the sport.
He has been competing on motorcycles in trials and scrambles since being a school boy and admitted that he was struggling for an identity after the injury meant that it was no longer possible to ride motorcycles competitively.
An accomplished pianist and now married to pop idol Katie Melua, he has latterly he has forged a new career as a rock vocalist and front a rock outfit which has taken his surname, Toseland.
The 39-year-old was a giant figure in motorcycling, comparable with the late Barry Sheene in terms of charisma and impact.
He won the World Superbike Championship on a works Italian Ducati twin in 2004 and went on to win the crown for the second time, on the works Ten Kate Honda, three years later – when he finished fourth in BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
He is only one of two men (Troy Corser is the other) to have managed the feat in the history of the sport.
He has also been linked with a World Motorcycle land Speed Record Attempt in a cigar-shaped Rolls Royce jet engine streamliner in Utah.
It will run as the 52 Express – his World Superbikes racing number.