Jorge Lorenzo celebrated his 21st birthday in painful but delighted fashion as he shrugged off the pain of multiple leg injuries to claim a stunning fourth place in today’s Shanghai MotoGP.
Lorenzo’s participation in the 22-lap race had been in serious doubt following his massive practice crash on Friday, but he produced a courageous display to surrender only seven-points on world championship leader and fierce Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo, who rode with a fractured left ankle and a badly bruised right leg, looked to be suffering in the early stages as he slipped from fourth to ninth by lap four.
But once the fuel load on his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 started to lighten, the less physically demanding the Shanghai circuit became easier, and Lorenzo started a breathtaking surge through the field.
He moved past Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards, Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Melandri, James Toseland and Nicky Hayden to claim a morale-boosting fourth.
And although it ended his 100 per cent rostrum record, Lorenzo said: “Without a doubt, this result today is like a victory for me. On Friday I couldn’t imagine being able to ride, then yesterday it was a little bit better and then finally today I was not able just to ride, but to be competitive and enjoy myself as well!
“I’ve ridden with a lot of pain in both legs but the staff of the Clinica Mobile made it possible for me to keep going, so I want to thank them. I lost a lot of places early on but in the second half of the race I found my rhythm and then step by step I started to move forwards; in fact I think I made more overtakes than in any race so far in this category.
“I stalled the engine on the start line for the warm-up lap, which was a scary moment, but luckily I was able to restart and it wasn’t a problem. I want to say congratulations to Valentino (Rossi) for a great victory today as well, I think it’s going to be an exciting year.
“I didn’t have any pain in my arms today so hopefully the recent operation has been a success. Now I’m flying back to Barcelona to have treatment on my ankles and I will do everything I can to be back to my physical best in Le Mans.
“I want to thank Michelin, because my tyres were very good today, as well as Yamaha and all of my guys. I’ve had a great 21st birthday.”