Bradley Smith ended the toughest weekend of his MotoGP career with a gutsy ride to ninth place before heading off to fix up his battered and bruised body.
Huge high-side crashes on cold tyres in Friday’s FP2 and yesterday morning’s pre-race warm-up session meant Smith started the 23-lap feeling like he’d been in a bar room brawl.
The most severe of his numerous aches and pains was a horrific open wound on his left little finger, which he was due to have a skin graft on in San Marino earlier today (Monday).
Add in the considerable discomfort of a fractured scaphoid bone in his left wrist and it was testament to his courage and determination that he could finish inside the top 10 in what must have felt like the longest 42 minutes and 19 seconds of his life.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider told MCN: “Given the circumstances it was a cracking race. Unfortunately I got arm pump after 10 laps because all I could use was my right arm. My left arm was non-existent, so going through the fast chicanes took it out of me.
"Then I ended up backing off the pace to try and get rid of the arm pump and started making mistakes. From that moment I just thought now is the time to put my head down and race properly and I came back into the 49s and started to put a good rhythm together and the arm pump disappeared.
"I’m a bit disappointed to do my best lap of the race on the last lap but as soon as the fuel load came down it just made my life so much easier. Aleix (Espargaro) was just there so it was a target and focused my mind a bit more and I completely forgot about the injury.”
Weakness in the wrist was an issue and he added: “I had painkillers so I didn’t have any pain but the wrist is weak and we need to find another way to strap it or come up with another idea to make it stronger for Barcelona. It is not going to be fixed by then but we should have some good improvement.
"I definitely need a skin graft on the finger and they will decide about the scaphoid because there is not enough blood supply there and if you put a screw in it you could potentially kill the bone.
"It is not a separated fracture at the moment. The bone is still together or at least it was on Friday. It is 75% through so I still have some contact and while we have contact I might be able to keep it the way it is.
"Nicky (Hayden) said he has had a problem for 18 months with the scaphoid and it is one of those bones that is a nightmare for a racer.”
Despite the morale-sapping crashes and subsequent injuries, the 22-year-old said he had never contemplated not starting yesterday’s race.
He added: “For some reason that never crosses my mind. When I was lying in the gravel in warm-up I thought I’m done because this is hurting far too much. But I got to my feet and was ready to go again. At the end of the day I could ride to 95% and that’s fine for me.
"I’m here to race and I want to learn and what I learned this weekend from the crashes and the race is invaluable. It is a painful lesson but it taught me you can’t turn up at Mugello with a harder construction Bridgestone tyre and nail it after one lap.
"I need to understand the warming up procedure more and maybe I need to learn to stress the tyre more so it gives me that extra heat.”
For more on the Mugello weekend and another terrific day for Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding, see the June 5 issue of MCN.