by GARY ELLIS
CRUMLIN'S Stephen Thompson is recovering from a broken vertebrae in the Royal Victoria Hospital after crashing at the Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday.
Thompson was competing in the Supertwins race when he came off on the approach to Ireland's Corner.
The 36-year-old has damaged some other vertabrae and surgeons are deciding whether to operate on the injury, pin it or let it heal naturally.
Doctors are confident the injury will not result in serious long-term damage but he is expected to wear a body cast for a few months while the injury heals.
The Crumlin rider finished in sixth position in last week's Dundrod 150 Superbike race and produced some fast laps in qualifying.
Thompson's injury at the Dundrod meeting, the fastest road race in the world, came after the death of Lee Vernon last week. The 24-year-old rider from Stoke-on-Trent was taking part in the Superbike race when the tragic incident happened. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but died last Friday.
Noel Johnston, Clerk of the Course said: "I am deeply saddened by the news of Lee's death. He first came to Dundrod as an 18-year-old novice and has been back every year since. He was lovely lad and a credit to the sport and to his family. He will be sorely missed.
Lee's family have asked for people to respect their privacy and give them time to come to terms with what has happened.
They have decided to go along with Lee's wishes for his organs to be
donated, so that his memory can live on. His family would like to convey
their thanks to everyone who has offered their support
and to the people who have provided practical help at this difficult time. The Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club wish to extend their heartfelt sympathies to Lee's family and circle of friends.
Lisburn Mayor, Alderman William Leathem, expressed his sympathies to the Vernon family.
"On behalf of Lisburn City Council we extend our deepest condolences to Lee's family and our prayers and thoughts are with them at this sad time," concluded Alderman Leathem.
The Dundrod 150 races were being held in advance of Saturday's main Ulster Grand Prix meeting.
Vernon had earlier finished fifth in the Supertwins race, equalling a similar result which he achieved in the 250cc class at the Ulster Grand Prix last year. He took a podium position at the recent Annoy road races and also secured a number • of impressive top -10 finishes at the highly regarded Southern 100 meeting on the Isle of Man in July.