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Aug 1, 2002

A River of Blood: Aaron Yates Talks About His Mid-Ohio Superbike Crash

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

By David Swarts

After clinching the 2002 AMA Supersport Championship earlier in the day, Team Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates was free to push his Vic Fasola-tuned GSX-R750 to the edge in Sunday afternoon's AMA Superbike race at Mid-Ohio July 28. And he did just that.

A specialist on the bumpy and technical Mid-Ohio roller-coaster, Yates got off the grid well, was racing with the leaders early in the 26-lap contest but got a little impatient behind Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom in turn seven.

"I made a couple of moves on guys and was wanting to make a move on Eric," said Yates Sunday evening before leaving Mid-Ohio. "But I wasn't really close enough.

"I had to get on the brakes pretty good. I didn't want to punt him too hard. I didn't want to hit him. I had a couple of other spots on the track I thought I could probably get by him.

"I guess I was just on the brakes too hard trying to keep from getting into him, cause he was a little slow getting in there, a little slower than I was. I don't know if I hit the concrete or what, but right before I started tipping it, the front just went."

Yates fell off the lowside of his mount and followed the bike into haybales lining the outside of the turn. Impacting haybales isn't the best scenario in this day and age of inflatable air barriers, but Yates slid in at a moderate speed and should have gotten right up. But he didn't!

After a few seconds, Yates started waving his hand for help, obviously pinned or somehow trapped by his Suzuki.

"We don't have those spool things for the stands on our bikes. They got these prongs that hang out for the quick-change stands; it catches ‘em easier," said Yates. "The thing went right up in my leathers, up in my arm and up in the muscle back there and sliced it pretty good. It went up in there a few inches.

"I couldn't get up cause it was hooked to me. I was under the bike, under the haybales and I was stretching on it. I was like, ‘What the hell? What's the deal?' I knew something…it felt like I whacked it a little bit cause you get used to that feel, like when you break a bone or if you do something, it gets kind of numb and all. That's how it felt, but I could tell it wasn't really broke because nothing was really moving. Like my elbow wasn't hurting, but I was hooked to the bike. I was jerking and jerking. Then finally, I was sticking my hand up like, ‘Where the hell is everyone at? Somebody come get this thing off me!'

"They got it off, I got up and there was like this river of blood running across the track. I was like, ‘Holy shit!' I got up, set my arm down and it was running out the end of leathers. Then I was just trying to get everything off as fast as I could and I tried to get it up, get it elevated."

Yates was taken to the medical center where nine stitches were required to close the wound internally; more stitches were required to close the outer wound.

With the AMA Supersport Championship wrapped up, Yates doesn't know if he will ride at the AMA season finale at VIR August 9-11

"I don't know. We'll see, but I don't want to prolong the healing process," said Yates.