Professional speedway rider Simon Lambert was knocked unconscious and badly hurt after a nasty crash.
The 27-year-old of Gosberton Risegate suffered a broken left hand and concussion.
However his leg was not broken as first feared following the collision while racing for Peterborough Panthers in Sunday’s Premier League KO Cup quarter-final clash against Somerset at the East of England Showground.
Panthers went down 52-38 in the second leg to complete a miserable 114-66 exit on aggregate which was made all the more painful by the loss of Lambert.
He was involved in a heat three crash when he slammed into the back-straight fence having inadvertently clipped the machine of partner Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen.
An hour-long delay followed as Lambert, who also sustained concussion and a badly swollen right knee, was treated at the track before a second ambulance arrived.
He is now likely to be sidelined for anything up to eight weeks and will be sorely missed by a team suddenly struggling for points again.
Lambert’s early departure was undoubtedly a factor in a third home defeat of the season as his remaining rides had to be taken by reserves.
But team boss Jason Attwood was determined not to use it as an excuse.
Panthers managed only six race-winners and two heat-advantages while producing a scorecard littered with 10 last places in addition to Lambert’s exclusion for his spill.
Attwood said: “It was a huge blow to lose Simon after a really nasty crash and we’ll certainly miss him because he has been on fire lately.
“But I’m not going to put the defeat down to that. We carried too many passengers and the performance was quite simply not good enough.
“We really wanted to put on a show after losing so heavily down at Somerset in the first leg, but you only have to look at the scorecard to see the problem. There are zeros all over it and that is never going to be a recipe for success.
“No-one turns up to ride poorly, but it is safe to say we expected more from certain individuals and the team as a whole.”