Jorge Lorenzo was amazed to finish the Italian Grand Prix in second position, just one second from victory and ahead of team-mate and home hero Valentino Rossi, at the end of a race that was 'like a movie'.
Lorenzo's dramatic day began with a lowly 13th in the wet morning warm-up, and his wet weather confidence was dented even further when he crashed on the way to the grid.
Fortunately, the double 2009 race winner was able to nurse his damaged machine back to the pits and switch to his spare bike in time for the race start.
"Honestly, this is as good as a win for me and I can't really believe the race today, it was like a movie!” smiled Jorge. “In warm-up I was quite worried because I was slow in the rain, then on the sighting lap I slid off into the gravel pit.
"All I could think about was making it back to the pits as quickly as possible in case there was still a chance to make the grid and luckily I made it just in time. My team had the second bike ready and I was able to still start from the pole position."
The Fiat Yamaha team then began frantically repairing the damaged bike so that Lorenzo could switch to it later in the race, while the Spaniard battled back up the order after a wobbly exit from pole left him as low as tenth on the opening lap.
Lorenzo was on his back foot in the wet, but kept in touch with the leaders and was third when the top four riders all pulled into the pits for their dry bikes on lap 10 of 23.
“On the grid I tried not to think about the crash, I just tried to focus,” he said. “But then I had a big slide off the line and the first part of the race wasn't so good for me. I have to say the biggest thank you to my guys today for getting the damaged bike ready in such a short time; it was a brilliant job and after I swapped bikes everything changed.”
Emerging in fourth place, the 22-year-old made a determined charge for the podium, passing Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso and Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi to take a second place, just one second behind Stoner's Ducati.
“I had a great rhythm and I was able to stay on fighting to the end and take this second place. It's a really amazing result because things could have been much worse today, so thank you again to everyone for making it possible. I'm really happy with this result,” he beamed.
Although he has now lost his world championship lead by four points to Stoner, Lorenzo has pulled five points clear of team-mate Rossi.