Hear from Jack after injury saw him sidelined in Austria.
Well, that’s the last time I talk about being at 100 per cent fitness going into a race weekend. I got to Austria last week really confident and feeling as good as I have all year with my leg, but in the end a couple of big crashes saw me on the sidelines again. I hate being at race weekends and not being able to race, and that’s twice this year with what happened to me at Austin. But sitting out on Sunday at the Red Bull Ring was the only sensible decision, especially after I’d been fortunate not to hurt myself 24 hours earlier.
Saturday’s crash in qualifying was a pretty big highside – I lost the front going into Turn 4 and then the rear came around, got some grip and then I was pretty much off to the moon after that. One of the bigger ones I’ve had in a while, and I was lucky to be able to get back out there on the second bike and get a qualifying lap in. It wasn’t great because the second bike had tyres on it that had done 17 laps already, but I still managed to get a lap in even if it was for 20th.
Sunday morning’s warm-up was going to be really important to make up for some lost time and get something out of such a low grid spot, but I hadn’t even done a proper flying lap when I had a fast crash coming out of Turn 8 and banged myself up pretty good. At first I thought I was mostly winded and bruised, but I got checked over at the hospital and they said I had a hairline fracture of a vertebrae in my back and my right wrist, and I was declared unfit to race.
I still definitely wanted to race and in the past I maybe would have tried to, but we have Brno next weekend and this part of the championship is really packed – we have four races in five weekends, and I couldn’t afford to risk another injury on top of the ones I had. I hated the call, but it was the right one. Pissed off, yes, but no more injuries this weekend is a small positive. Not being able to add to the three top-10s in a row was frustrating, but I can’t afford to compromise the rest of the season and I have to think of the bigger picture a bit. We’ve still got eight races to go and I want to finish as strong as I can.
Austria hadn’t been on the calendar for almost 20 years, and the people must have missed it judging by how many of them came out on Sunday. The stands looked completely packed and with 95,000 people, it’s no wonder. The place looked amazing in the good weather too after being pretty cold and miserable on Friday, so not being on the grid was even more frustrating.
I’m not going to over-react to this, because the time leading into Austria was really positive. It was the first time I haven’t headed back to Townsville in the summer break which was a bit weird, but there was still plenty to do as well as have a bit of downtime. My dog Bruce was able to come back to Andorra with me from Holland, and he’s going to come to a few races for the rest of the year – we drove from Andorra to Spielberg and he’s coming with me to Brno too. I did plenty of cycling in the break too, and one thing I can’t wait to do soon is to see Cal (Crutchlow) and Lucy, who become parents to their little girl Willow. ‘Uncle Jack’ will be making a visit soon. Really pleased for those guys, and Cal just seems to have a massive smile on his face the whole time.
The other thing that came out over the weekend was that my crew chief Cristian Gabarrini and I won’t be going on next year – he’s been with me for the first two years in MotoGP, but he’s off to join the red team (Ducati) next year to work with Jorge (Lorenzo). It’s a real shame because he and I have worked well together and he’s taught me a lot, and I feel I’ve learned a lot from him in the last 18 months, not just about MotoGP, but the paddock, life in general – he’s a smart guy. He’s got a great way of working with the rider, knowing what they’re experiencing and what they want, and I’ll definitely miss that. We’re working on a replacement now and I hope we can have someone in before the end of the year.
That’s a bit longer-term, but Brno is in seven days’ time and I’ll be there, and I hope to be on the grid this time. I’ll get checked out in the middle of the week and we’ll make a call from there. Catch you then.
This story originally appeared on redbull.com.au
Photos courtesy of Marc VDS