Jorge 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 all-too-human error.
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 left shoulder.
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 work.
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.