Cal Crutchlow has revealed how a big highside during qualifying at Le Mans left him struggling to breathe during the MotoGP race the following afternoon.
The Brit spent the night before the race in hospital with blood on his lungs after crashing his LCR Honda during Qualifying 1 at Garage Vert.
Despite intense hip pain, Crutchlow escaped what he thought was a broken pelvis.
He nevertheless faced a major battle to make the finish, by which time he had risen net five positions to take eighth.
“The whole race I was unable to breathe very well, as you can imagine with blood on the lungs and the situation that there's been,” explained Crutchlow.
“I was just not willing to push at the start of the race. The first 15 laps I was just riding round to make sure that I stayed on the bike.
“But I never thought to pull in, I thought ‘just keep riding and see what you get'. And if I crashed today I would have been in trouble, I can tell you that.
“So the main thing was to stay on the bike and finish the race but once I started to feel comfortable, with 10 laps to go, I started to push a little and was able to pick some riders off.
“In the end I had good pace this weekend, it's just a shame I made the mistake in qualifying yesterday.
“I could have been on the podium, because I was faster than (runner-up Danilo) Petrucci on Friday and he finished second to Marc (Marquez, who won the race).”
Crutchlow, who described the injury as “probably the worst” of his career due to his breathlessness, also opened up on his determination to race.
The 32-year-old barely made the warm up session due to a later than expected release from hospital but said that he wanted to battle through the 27-lapper for his own satisfaction.
“When I first crashed, did I think I'd be racing today? No, not at all,” recalled Crutchlow.
“But a bit later on I was determined to and it started the whole other problems (regarding getting declared fit to race).
“But in the end, I didn't want to race to be a hero. I raced because I love racing.
“I think all racers are the same, you saw when Valentino (Rossi) broke his leg how fast he wanted to come back. How fast Jack (Miller) came back when he broke his leg. It's just what we do. It's our lives, our jobs.
“If I just would have jacked it in and said ‘Okay, let's get the plane home' (on Saturday), then I would have probably known that I was not enjoying riding, when actually I really am enjoying riding now.”
Crutchlow sits eighth in the championship, which continues at Mugello on June 1-3.
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— MotoGP™🇫🇷🏁 (@MotoGP) May 19, 2018