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COLUMN: We've made huge strides since last year
3:50pm Thursday 17th April 2014 in Sport
WHAT a great Sunday in Texas it turned out to be – but it could so easily have ended before we had got started.
Jorge Lorenzo was in front of me on the starting grid and made the jump start of all jump starts – before the lights had gone off.
I have a different approach to the start which I learnt at those early club meetings.
I focus on the lights or the flag rather than the guy in front, which was a good thing because when Jorge disappeared, I was not even in gear which shows just how early he went.
I was so lucky because I might have found myself following him, but it did unsettle me a bit.
I’d not found the best practice starts and not got as dialled in as I usually can because it’s very different racing uphill into that tight turn one.
I didn’t have quite enough power and was dragging into turn one with my old teammate Cal Crutchlow, who started leaning on me and Andrea Iannone dive-bombed every one up the inside.
I didn’t make up as many places as I wanted, but I didn’t really have the pace to run with the front runners in the first part of the race and got shuffled back to ninth at one point.
There were a few crashes in front of me and then a few overtakes and I found myself in with a chance of the podium.
There was a real opportunity this weekend, but if I’d not taken it steady in the first half and preserved my tyres, that chance for the fight at the end would not have come.
It’s swings and roundabouts, but I was really pleased to finish fifth – my best ever MotoGP result – and the top Yamaha bike.
Two laps from the end I had one really big go at Stefan Bradl, but I didn’t have the pace to overtake.
If I had made it stick, I would have gone after Andrea Dovizioso and the chance of the podium.
I’d played all my cards at that point and was all in.
Unfortunately, I got beat, but I am delighted with what we achieved and learnt.
Racing against the other Yamaha and the Hondas and Ducatis, it’s amazing just how much you can learn which you use preparing for the next race.
My best MotoGP result, the top Yamaha and the highlight of the season all in one afternoon, so it can’t be so bad.
That highlight came when the Monster Tech 3 duo of Smith and Espargaro took on the factory Yamaha team and won 2-0.
My qualifying lap was 2.9 seconds faster than last year, which shows how much 12 months in MotoGP can improve everything we do as a rider and as a team.
We have come a long way, and the weekend in Austin cemented what we felt we’d achieved in Qatar.
Everybody put our qualifying and race success in Qatar, before the crash, down to the fact we’d tested there two weeks earlier.
To be honest, I started to believe it was the only reason why and so coming here, being competitive and showing we can be there and make it happen was brilliant.
The next stop is Argentina and a new track for us all.
It’s is a big step into the unknown and I just hope it’s a Yamaha track because I’ve had enough of these Honda tracks already!
It’s going to be great – and whoever can set up his bike the best, will win.
It’s a big team effort.
- I’M not coming home before Argentina, because my brother, Courtney, has come over and we are going to Colin Edwards’s notorious Texas Boot camp.
I’ve already been instructed by Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal not to do anything silly and so there won’t be much riding for me, but plenty for Courtney.
I’m still planning a few skids and wheelies with Colin, but especially nice to get away from MotoGP for a couple of days and hang out with my brother who’s come out to ride bikes, shoot guns and drink beer!
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