Jack writes about his scary crash at Le Mans, and why MotoGP has a heavy heart after Nicky Hayden’s terrible accident.
I’m pretty beaten up after what was a bit of a rollercoaster weekend here at Le Mans – actually, make that a LOT of a rollercoaster weekend. It all happened this weekend – I led the times on Friday, had three crashes on Saturday (we’ll get to the biggest one in a sec), rode in as much pain as I can remember in a while, and hung in there and managed to get eighth in the race, which is pretty crazy considering how sore I am. The race up the front (now I’ve caught up with what happened) was pretty wild too.
But first, that crash in Saturday practice. It was pretty nasty, as nasty as they get really. I had some locking on the front through Turn 2, and when the tyre gripped I was heading for the inside barrier where there was grass, changing surfaces, the lot. The bike was headed straight for the fence and I had to make the split-second decision to get off it. You saw the rest …
The bike was pretty trashed, but I was OK relatively speaking when you consider what I could have been like. My knee was swollen up and I bashed my right hand pretty good, but I got the all-clear from the medical centre to do qualifying, and then crashed again at the last corner, luckily nowhere near as bad as the earlier one. I was a bit annoyed to be 11th on the grid seeing as though I’d led the times on Friday and was third and got straight into Q2 again after third practice, but it could have been worse, definitely. I’m a very, very lucky boy.
When the adrenaline wore off I was pretty beaten up on Saturday night and I knew Sunday was going to be tough, and I paced myself in warm-up and was all the way back in 17th. I had to get 28 laps out of myself in the race and needed to save whatever I had for that.
The race was more a case of not hurting myself anymore and staying on, and just hanging in there lap by lap. I had a jab to get me through the race, the top of my hand is a mess, the hand was worse than the knee. With about eight laps to go I was really struggling, I had pins and needles in my hand. I definitely got a bit lucky with some guys who were ahead of me crashing out, and in the end eighth was the same as my best race this season, in Qatar. Valentino (Rossi) crashed out on the last lap and that got me up another spot. It was crazy and hard to keep track of, I was concentrating as hard as I could just to fight the pain and stay on. Finishing top 10 again – that’s four this season in five races now – and improving to 10th in the championship was more than I could have hoped for after Saturday, but I would have probably said no to that if you offered me that on Friday. Definitely a strange weekend.
I’m supposed to be testing at Catalunya this week, but I’ll have to see how I pull up after this before I can commit to that – there’s no surgery or anything I need to get, but the hand just needs time. The adrenaline got me through today, that’s for sure. And the crowd was intense! More than 100,000 people for race day was pretty amazing, that’s the (Johann) Zarco factor for you.
One more thing before I go, because it’s all most of us have been talking about at Le Mans – of course I’m talking about the terrible cycling accident that happened to Nicky Hayden and how all of us riders are just so devastated for him. Nicky is just one of the best guys who has been around since I’ve been in the paddock, and you just never hear a bad word said about the guy. Seriously talented of course seeing as though he beat Valentino to win a MotoGP championship, but he’s maybe even a better person than he is a rider, which is what makes all of this so sad. He raced my bike at Aragon last year when I was out injured and I got to know him a bit better there, and everyone in MotoGP is hoping that he pulls through after what’s happened. He’s a fighter and if we know anything about Nicky, it’s that he’ll keep fighting. We’re all hoping he and his family can get some good news soon.
This story originally appeared on redbull.com
Photos courtesy of Marc VDS.