Painful right shoulder and foot injuries couldn’t stop courageous Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo from keeping his MotoGP title hopes alive in a pulsating Laguna Seca race.
Riding in intense pain after his two huge qualifying crashes at Turn 10 on Saturday, Lorenzo came within two seconds off pulling off a shock victory with a heroic display in the 32-lap American GP.
Relegated to fifth from pole position on the opening lap, Lorenzo took his time to settle into a rhythm, only moving into fourth when Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso tumbled out on lap seven.
He then latched onto the back of title rivals Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, showing no obvious signs that his partially dislocated right shoulder and badly bruised right foot were causing him too much concern.
He waited until lap 21 to dispose of Stoner’s fading challenge to set-up an enthralling duel with Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi.
Convinced he could pose a threat to race-long leader Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo opted to attack Rossi at the final corner on lap 29.
But diving up the inside but Lorenzo off line and onto a series of Laguna Seca’s notoriously bumpy sections.
Incredibly he somehow managed to stop himself crashing his factory YZR-M1, running wide to give Rossi second place back instantly.
The mistake cost Lorenzo a second and it was a deficit he couldn’t recover, with Rossi in full attack mode himself to try and spring a late surprise on Pedrosa.
Lorenzo said: “I did my best or very close to my best. If we forget the mistake in that corner to try to overtake Valentino, I did one of my best races of my career, because today my physical condition was very poor. The warm-up was difficult because it was very cold and I didn’t sleep so well last night. I was very cold and I had a lot of pain. But in the race my arm improved a little bit, but the problem was I couldn’t use with my right hand, so I had to use a lot my left hand, so it was difficult to finish the race.”
Assessing his brave attempt to pass Rossi at the last corner with four laps remaining, he added: “The lap before I saw Valentino braked a little bit earlier than me, so I thought that I could pass him in this corner. But if you enter the line deeper in this corner, there are more bumps, and then I brake so, so late and my rear tyre started to move a lot. And I was closing my eyes because I thought I was going to crash. So God helped me this occasion. Maybe without this mistake, if I had been able to pass him, it would have been possible to win but anyway third is good in the circumstances and we have taken good points.”