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GP Week : Issue 11
M oto GP FRANCE >> COURAGE, danger and pain – these are integral components of motorcycle racing. But is there a responsibility to minimise the last two? It was heroic Jorge Lorenzo who put these questions into focus at Le Mans, for a second race in a row. In China, he was already riding hurt, after surgery to his right forearm. Then the race-winning top MotoGP rookie had a huge crash in practice, sustaining fractures to one ankle and further damage to the other. He raced anyway to an amazing fourth. He arrived in France in a wheelchair, one leg in a special cast that he had to unzip to put on his leathers. Then he crashed on Friday, ran off the track on Friday and Saturday – the second one a fraught high- speed gallop across the gravel. And crashed again on Saturday. Amazingly, it still wasn’t enough to stop him. Were the crashes caused by his physical weakness? It’s a moot point. His response was: “It’s dangerous when you’re okay, and it’s dangerous when you’re not okay.” But it was hard not to think that he might have been able to save at least some of those situations if at full strength. Clearly, he can’t stop himself. Which is quite right, and wholly admirable. He’s a real racer. Nor could GP medic Dr Costa stop him – and why should he? His brief is to patch-‘em-up and get-’em-out; there is no pretence about that. I once asked one of Costa’s men whether the Clinica Mobile team didn’t have a duty to protect these riders from themselves. “No – they are professional sportsmen; they can decide for themselves,” he replied happily. Oh really? Mature and sensible enough to make that sort of decision? They’re motorbike racers, for pity’s sake. And some of them in the 125 class are 15 years old! Where is the independent medical opinion, from a doctor who doesn’t have an interest in quick-fix solutions, and who will not bow to his patient’s every whim? The doctor who will make anyone with a broken ankle jump off a table five times before letting him ride? Lorenzo’s courage at Shanghai and Le Mans once again reveals there is everything to admire about a rider who refuses to give in to pain, but plenty to question about a MotoGP racing management that washes its hands of any duty of care. Do GP riders need to be saved from themselves? Michael Scott MotoGP editor o p in io n 35