Cal Crutchlow experienced relief and regret in equal measure yesterday after the British rider produced a heroic ride to sixth place with a broken left ankle at Silverstone.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was a major doubt for his home race for the second year in succession after he broke and dislocated his left ankle in a practice crash on Saturday morning.
He needed to pass late medical checks before getting clearance to ride moments before the start of the pre-race warm-up session.
But having missed qualifying, the Coventry rider was forced to start from the back row of the grid.
By the end of the second lap, Crutchlow had already passed all nine CRT machines to move into 11th but Valentino Rossi was 3.3s clear in 10th. Despite the considerable discomfort caused when changing direction and shifting gears,
Crutchlow passed Rossi for 10th on lap six and he then superbly hunted down Hector Barbera and Stefan Bradl to seize seventh by lap 11.
Crutchlow continued to grit his teeth and ride through the pain barrier but his hopes of a top six seemed remote when he trailed Nicky Hayden by seven seconds on lap 12.
Roared on by his home crowd, Crutchlow set a stunning pace that matched the leading group and a remarkable charge through the field was complete when he secured sixth from Hayden on the final lap with a brilliant overtake at the fast Maggotts Corner.
Crutchlow was relieved to have started the race and been able to put on a dazzling show for 66,000 British fans, who rewarded the 26-year-old with a standing ovation.
But his superhuman effort was tinged with some regret as Crutchlow had demonstrated podium pace throughout and at times in the second half of the 20-lap race only eventual winner Jorge Lorenzo was faster.
He told MCN: “I’ve got mixed emotions because I think I did a good job because the fans turned up and probably didn’t expect to see me ride. I finished sixth and moved back into fourth in the championship with a strong ride but I should have been on the front row and challenging Lorenzo for a win.”
Talking about the crash that threatened to rule him out of Silverstone again after a broken left collarbone sidelined him 12 months ago, the 2009 World Supersport champion said: “I was p****d off and angry because it was a stupid mistake that I made last year and I did it again this year.
"Three riders crashed on the same lap and we were the only three to re-heat the tyre from the night before, so something was maybe wrong. I was coming into change the bike that lap so I wasn’t pushing but I crashed the bike and I am not blaming anybody.
"When I was lying there I didn’t think much because I didn’t know I was down. Apparently I was lying there for three laps but I didn’t know I was. I wasn’t unconscious because I had my eyes open and I could hear bikes. I though I was there for 30 seconds but they said I was there for six minutes.”
Crutchlow had to plead with medical staff to let him race having initially been ruled out and told to take complete rest for four weeks.
But he will avoid surgery and try and speed up the recovery process by going into a hyperbaric chamber this week on the Isle of Man before the next race in Assen.
He said: “I don’t want an operation. They said a pin could be put in it but the specialiat I saw said it would be eight to 10 weeks off my foot. I’ll go back to the Isle of Man and use the hyperbaric chamber to see if that speeds the process up.
"For the next two weeks I’ll be off my feet. The TV never caught the crash and it looked like I lost the front but I lost the rear. It wasn’t the slap on the floor that did the damage but the amount of times I rolled. I don’t like rollercoasters as it is.”
Crutchlow said there is no doubt about his participation in the famous Dutch TT on June 30.
He added: “If they pass me fit here they have got to pass me fit in Assen. I’ve got to rest up and see if I can come back in Assen stronger. This was my home Grand Prix and the goal was to be on the podium and it never happened.
"The best I could do was sixth but it took me a while to get by the CRT guys. I was a bit cautious but after that it went ok. If I could have started from the front row I could have challenged Lorenzo.”
For the exclusive thoughts from Crutchlow, see the June 20 issue of Motor Cycle News.