Marco Bezzecchi gritted his teeth at Mandalika, it was in no way a given that the Italian rider recovering from a broken collarbone would already be back in the saddle. Yet a few days after the operation Bez landed in Indonesia, on the same day he got on the bike as if nothing had happened and tackled free practice on Friday. A crash into the gravel at high speed scared insiders more than Marco himself, who at the end of the free practice session finished with the third best time, the best of the Ducatis and just two tenths behind the two Aprilia riders, the most competitive today. However, the pain can be felt, the rider cannot hide it, and there is certainly the possibility of not being able to finish the race over the long distance in these conditions.
"It hasn't been an easy week - Bez began - fortunately when I got on the bike I immediately felt at ease, I can't complain. The last 24 hours have been much calmer than I expected, during the journey to arrive here in Mandalika immediately after the operation my shoulder only swelled but the pain was bearable".
It can't have been easy for you to get on the bike straight away, both due to the pain and mentally.
"The pain I can actually feel a lot, I expected even worse but maybe it's because it's only the first day. It creates problems for me especially in braking, so I don't expect to be able to be one hundred percent on every lap. In the afternoon session I started without pushing too much and gradually increased the pace, which was not an easy situation for me to manage. I will only take risks where I am sure I can take them."
Is there a possibility of not being able to finish the race?
"I don't know, we'll find out together on Sunday evening", joked Marco.
Having to manage pain is not a new condition for Marco, who had already had to deal with a wrist injury at Misano. Now the broken collarbone will force him once again to plan his strength for the weekend.
"I know that it will get worse from tomorrow. I will have to try not to overdo it, not only in view of the race but also of qualifying, which is also very stressful from a physical point of view. I would also like to avoid relying too much on painkillers, but a lot will depend on the moment. On Sunday I will have to count on the spirit of racing to tackle the race in these conditions!", Marco continued, rubbing a bruise on his forearm he picked up in the crash.
A crash in turn 11 during FP1 in which the Italian lost the front and ended up in the gravel at high speed.
"I made a small mistake, but the trajectory or the pain in my shoulder had nothing to do with it. The crash was dangerous though, I burnt my ass to try not to hit my arms!", he joked again.
Could painkillers help like in Misano? There it ended in Champagne in the press conference room.
"The pain is much worse than that of Misano, but we will think about champagne after the race. Of course, if I go well, for sure champagne is a very good painkiller," he laughed again.
What convinced you to still come to Mandalika immediately after the operation?
“To be honest, on Monday when I went back home the morning after the surgery, I felt very shit. Then on Tuesday when I woke up at home I felt incredibly better. I said ‘wow, this is strange’. But I was looking better, feeling better, moving the arm more and having more power with less pain. So, I said ‘I wanted to try today in the gym and let’s see. Of course, I wanted to try. Not everyone agreed, but in the end, I tried to convince everyone – especially my mum.”
Among the opinions considered by Bez, there was obviously also that of Valentino.
“At the beginning he was a bit more conservative than me, but when I told him I felt good and I can try, he agreed with me. But he’s a racer, he understands.”