Casey Stoner rode through the pain barrier to keep his MotoGP world title hopes alive after a tough weekend at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Australian fractured his right ankle and suffered extensive ligament damage after a vicious high-side crash in the early stages of Saturday’s qualifying session.
He was only cleared to ride after a rigorous medical check on Sunday morning, but the Repsol Honda rider showed immense courage to fight for the podium until the latter stages of an uninspiring 28-lap race.
Stoner took third from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Andrea Dovizioso on lap 10 but as the inevitable fatigue set in and pre-race painkillers wore off, he couldn’t keep the Italian at bay.
Dovizioso swept back into third on lap 22 and Stoner was unable to summon one final push from his battered and bruised body.
He did at least salvage 13 precious world championship points, as at one stage it had looked like he would be forced to withdraw from the race.
He now trails title favourite Jorge Lorenzo by 39-points with seven races remaining and he said: “I'm definitely disappointed with how the weekend went. We had a strong start on Friday morning and then had a few issues Friday afternoon in FP2. We showed that we were certainly had the pace for pole position and fight for the win but unfortunately I had a huge crash in qualifying. The injuries I sustained from the crash made things very difficult for us and we lost precious track time to work on the set up. This morning in warm up I was just getting comfortable on the bike and trying to get a feel for everything rather than working on set-up. The race was equally as difficult, we had a rough start and got pushed back some positions and had to fight our way back through. As soon as we did, unluckily Ben (Spies) had a bike failure and I found myself in the middle of the smoke, unsure where I was going and what I might hit and we lost positions again. At the end of the race it was almost impossible to maintain the pace. The painkillers I took to dull the pain gradually wore off at around the halfway point and as I was compensating for my injury with the other side of my body, I simply had no energy left. It was frustrating to give up the podium position to Andrea but we did everything we could and at least I was able to ride and take some points"
For nine pages of news and reaction from the Indianapolis MotoGP, see the August 19 issue of MCN.