A huge slice of luck and some brilliant wet and dry riding from Jorge Lorenzo helped keep the in-form Spaniard in the early MotoGP world championship title hunt in Mugello.
The double world 250 champion had an unforgettable and lucky Italian GP, Lorenzo recovering to take second place in the flag-to-flag encounter after he’d crashed his number one Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1 on the sighting lap.
In wet conditions, Lorenzo clipped the inside kerb at the penultimate corner and crashed out heavily as he neared completing the grid formation lap. He was lucky to escape injury and make it to his spare YZR-M1 just moments before the pitlane exit was closed to allow him to take his place on the grid in pole position.
Huge wheelspin as he tried to launch off the line then dropped him down to 10th on the first lap, and he struggled to fight his way back through on Bridgestone’s wet tyres on a drying track.
He was chasing Rossi and Stoner before opting to follow his title rivals into the pits to switch to his bike set-up for dry conditions. Rejoining in fourth, he passed Dovizioso and Capirossi in the final five laps and only ended up one second away from eventual winner Casey Stoner on the factory Ducati GP9.
A relieved Lorenzo said: “Honestly, this is as good as a win for me and I can’t really believe the race today, it was like a movie! This morning in warm-up I was quite worried because I was slow in the rain, then on the sighting lap I slid off into the gravel pit. All I could think about was making it back to the pits as quickly as possible in case there was still a chance to make the grid and luckily I made it just in time.
"My team had the second bike ready and I was able to still start from the pole position. On the grid I tried not to think about the crash, I just tried to focus. But then I had a big slide off the line and the first part of the race wasn’t so good for me. I have to say the biggest thank you to my guys today for getting the damaged bike ready in such a short time; it was a brilliant job and after I swapped bikes everything changed.
"From then on I had a great rhythm and I was able to stay on fighting to the end and take this second place. It’s a really amazing result because things could have been much worse today, so thank you again to everyone for making it possible. I’m really happy with this result because after the crash I thought the race was lost.”