China MotoGP: Battered and bruised Jorge Lorenzo claims heroic fourth

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Spanish rookie Jorge Lorenzo produced a stunning and heroic performance in today’s Shanghai qualifying session to post the fourth best time.

The double world 250 champion braved the pain of a fractured left ankle and severe trauma on his right leg to keep his hopes of salvaging a big haul of points from tomorrow’s 22-lap race alive.

The Fiat Yamaha rider’s participation in the Chinese MotoGP had looked in serious doubt yesterday following a sickening high-side crash on only his 12th lap while he prepared to enter the slow, downhill turn two left-hander.

Lorenzo suffered multiple leg injuries and at one stage the world championship leader considered withdrawing from the fourth round of the series.

But he returned to action this morning with a respectable 14th fastest time and calling on all his reserves of grit and determination, Lorenzo clocked a best lap of 1:58.711 in a painful and gruelling 21-lap stint in qualifying.

Using a modified gearshifter with restricted movement in his left foot and ankle, Lorenzo conducted his post qualifying press debriefs in a wheelchair and every time he came into the pits he needed to be lifted off his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 by his mechanics.

After surrendering his 100 per cent pole position record today, Jorge Lorenzo still only missed the front row by 0.120secs as he just failed to overhaul reigning world champion Casey Stoner.

Lorenzo said: “The way I felt yesterday, I couldn’t even imagine a result like this today. In fact it was all I could do to believe that I would be able to ride at all. This result is amazing for me, as good as my other pole positions, and it’s given me a lot of confidence despite the pain.

“Now I have to take care and tomorrow I will just try to do the best I can; who knows what can happen in the race? I have a lot of pain in both feet and ankles and it’s difficult to change down with the left and to change direction with the right, but I showed I am able to do it.

“Yesterday’s crash was big, probably the biggest of my career, but I think I was actually quite lucky not to have worse injuries.

“The doctors at the clinic are working very hard to help me and now I will go back there for more treatment. Hopefully I will be feeling better again tomorrow and we will do what we can, rain or shine.”

His Fiat Yamaha team boss Daniele Romagnoli paid tribute to Lorenzo after his brave display today, admitting the team had given the 20-year-old the option to pull of the race.

“Jorge is still surprising us! He did an unbelievable job in today’s qualifying considering his injuries, and after the crash yesterday we could never have imagined a result like this.

“Having missed all of yesterday, we only had one session to set-up the bike but we managed to find a good race pace and some good tyres with Michelin. Then fourth place with the qualifying tyre this afternoon is very impressive.

“The race is a different story because it’s long and it will be arduous for Jorge, but hopefully he will be feeling a little bit better tomorrow and we know how brave he is,” said Romagnoli.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt