CN III IN THE PADDOCK
BY MICHAEL SCOTT
A RISK TOO FAR?
orge Lorenzo's performance
at Assen was a landmark of
courage and achievement.
And what else? It raises uncomfortable questions about the nature of the sport, and the nature
of those who take part in it – not
the riders, but everyone else,
from officials to mechanics to the
fans. Us, in other words.
Firstly, big respect to Jorge,
who added another facet to his
already unearthly reputation - a
superhuman recovery from an
It took just three days from start
to finish: beginning with the mistake. The evening before Lorenzo
had made another mistake: announcing to the assembled press
and his rivals that "Probably I now
I am in the best shape I have ever
been in my career." This sort of
remark often has a sting in the
tail. On Thursday afternoon he
proved it, when he misjudged
the effect of a slowly growing
puddle, touched a white line, and
was thrown over the handlebars
at 176 mph to land heavily on his
The consequences were
painful: a displaced fracture to
the collarbone. Everyone knew
what that meant: reconstructive
surgery with plates and screws,
and a courageous return in two
weeks' time in Germany.
Lorenzo had another idea. No
time was wasted. Within hours
he was en route to Barcelona in a
chartered plane, and less than 12
hours after crashing he was out
for the count on the operating
table, with the sawbones hard at
At 4 a.m. he was out of the
operating room, at lunchtime he
was checked over and passed fit
for travel, and by evening he was
back at Assen.
And next day, back on the Yamaha M1, and in the early part
of the race lapping close to the
times of the leaders as he forged
from 12th on the grid to fifth over
the line. The race started 37
hours after he'd been anaesthetized.
Pale and heavily strapped after
the race, he told Spanish pressmen: "I am not a crazy person. I
think riders are not crazy people.
We know exactly if we are fit or
not to race."
Lorenzo would say that. So
would (and in fact did) say all the
other riders. You wouldn't expect anything else. The courage
required to climb on a 250-plus
horsepower MotoGP bike then
race it against the best in the
world, weekend after weekend,
is a big reason why we admire
them so much.
We have seen similar feats in
the past, and they likewise evoke
a feeling of awe at the courage,
commitment and determination.
Kevin Schwantz riding at Assen with a freshly broken wrist
springs to mind. He finished fifth,
funnily enough: afterwards in the
pit, grimacing in agony, I recall
Dr. Costa dropping to one knee
beside him and saying perhaps
the only English words he knew:
"I love you." The doctor was with
Lorenzo also as he entered his