A race to forget, with the injuries to prove it

I’m the fifth bike out of 14 as we all start from the pit lane after opting to change tyres following our practice lap. It was scary stuff with so many riders so close with no grid

I’m the fifth bike out of 14 as we all start from the pit lane after opting to change tyres following our practice lap. It was scary stuff with so many riders so close with no grid

First published in Sport

IF I was lapping a couple of seconds slower than the leaders and finishing with a few points each race, I would be a lot less happy than I actually feel at the moment.

The solution is simple – I must rule out the mistakes because we have the pace to be right up there.

I’m sitting here with a hole in my shin right down to the bone, no skin on my little finger and trying to get my head round the weekend.

Five crashes, a start from the pit lane and lap times in the race that could have put me in fifth place – it is a weekend I will certainly not forget in a hurry.

I understand how people must think when they read this column and I keep saying we are so close to some big results and that there are some positives from a weekend of crashes, stitches and no points.

I believe – and I know the team believe – we are very close and it’s down to me to translate those practice, qualifying and testing times into some big point-scoring finishes.

The team, right from the top with my boss, Herve Poncharal, are giving me so much support and I feel so bad for them.

Those results do not reflect on them and it’s up to me to bring them some rewards and I genuinely believe I can do just that starting at the next round in Indianapolis.

At the moment, everything seems against us – although I’m making no excuses for the crashes.

I put my hand up and accept total responsibility.

To say things did not start well would be an understatement with a big crash at the fast turn ten in the first five minutes of the first practice on Friday morning.

To make matters even worse, I got out on the second bike and crashed that five minutes from the end of the session.

I’d taken plenty of skin off the little finger that I broke in Italy last year in the Friday crashes.

Then on Saturday, a rodeo style crash at turn two when I nearly held onto the bike, put a big hole in my left shin that had to be stitched.

It was hardly the ideal preparation for qualifying, but I was confident of at least a second-row start when I went down again at turn three.

I still qualified on the third row of the grid.

We got through the morning warm-up on Sunday OK, but then the weather took overfor the second grand prix in succession when it started to pour with rain 30 minutes before the start of the race.

Then, of course, it stopped and it started to dry.

We kept the wet tyres on, but on that final sighting lap, aside from turn 12, the track was almost dry.

That saw 14 of us pull back into pit lane to change to slick tyres.

It meant we all had to start the race from the pit lane and that was very scary.

There was 14 of the most powerful bikes in the world lining up with no grid – it was more like the start of a minibike race on a karting track and very dangerous.

We escaped this time, but I think all the riders agree it must not happen again because that may well not be the case next time.

I’m sure it will be the main discussion at the next safety commission meeting with the riders in America.

Once I’d settled into the race, we started to carve our way past the riders who’d started from the grid.

I was following Valentino Rossi and saw him pass Mike Di Meglio at turn one and I knew my race pace was more than good enough to follow him.

I got up the inside of Di Meglio and overtook him, but as he came back to the apex of the corner, I ran onto the inside of the curb, which was still damp, and down I went again.

I could have packed up there and then after those five crashes, but the bike was not damaged and so I got back onto the Yamaha.

She deserved better and I managed to finish the race out of the points, but at a pace which could have seen me finish fifth or sixth in the race.

But if you crash, you don’t score points.

The three-week summer break will give my finger and shin time to heal and, maybe more importantly, give me time to clear out my brain to prepare for a massive second half of the season.

It all starts again at Indianapolis and within a few days of the summer holiday, I will be desperate to get out there – although my finger and shin may not agree.

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