As I sat at my computer, preparing to conjure up some words to describe the machine-like quality and consistency of the reigning MotoGP champion, the rear wheel of Jorge Lorenzo’s prototype racing Yamaha strayed uncharacteristically toward the sodden wet track perimeter. As the first few superlatives appeared on the screen in front of me, that rear wheel snapped violently out of line. The motorbike bucked and wobbled, flopped and flicked its master through the air like a doll disregarded by a stroppy child.
With a terrifying clatter, Lorenzo’s body crashed to earth as violently as his cartwheeling Yamaha. Remarkably, the Spaniard found his feet and tentatively hobbled to safety, cradling all the way his left arm – his collarbone had been shattered. Given the ferocity of the crash, Lorenzo got off lightly.
The injury sustained was proof of the 2-time World Champion’s mortality; proof that, despite the metronomic performances and zen-like calm, he was still more man than machine. But there was more to come.
No sooner had the world finished wincing at footage of Jorge’s frightful incident, Lorenzo, who had left the MotoGP circus in Holland to fly to Barcelona for surgery on the bent and broken clavicle, was now boarding another plane, this one bound for Holland once more. From having the crash on Thursday, Lorenzo had had surgery in Spain at 2am on Friday, arrived back in Holland for a press release at 6pm and announced that, depending on a medical evaluation, he would race on Saturday! Surely not; the flights alone would knock most people out and the injury? I stubbed my toe this morning and a return to work on Monday is in serious doubt!
But what do I know? Valentino Rossi, whose racing future I had recently questioned, went on to win the race and, having successfully passed the medical evaluation, Jorge Lorenzo hustled his way to fifth with effectively one arm tied behind his back! With Rossi claiming his 80th career victory after a tense 2-and-a-half year wait since the 79th, Lorenzo’s stunning and scarcely believable ride may just lose some well-deserved column inches but shouldn’t be underestimated. Reminiscent of Cal Crutchlow’s ride to second in France with a fractured leg, Lorenzo achieved something remarkable at Assen, losing just two points to his closest championship rival, Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo, for the time being, remains human, but a few more titanium plates and screws, performances of robotic consistency as well as unyielding drive and determination and people will start believing other wise.