For the second time this season, Jorge Lorenzo lost out on victory by less than 0.1sec to Fiat Yamaha team-mate and title rival Valentino Rossi - but was proud that he had pushed the reigning six-time MotoGP world champion so hard.
Fighting his way back from sixth at turn one of the German GP, Lorenzo joined the tail of the four-man lead group at the end of the opening lap, then progressed past Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and finally Rossi to take the lead with five laps to go.
Lorenzo later revealed he thought there were more laps remaining in which to try and break Rossi, who was using a softer rear tyre, but the 22-year-old Spaniard couldn't shake the Italian superstar and was re-passed into turn one with two laps to go.
The #99 looked to be lining Rossi up for a pass into the same turn on the final lap, but Rossi predicted the move and took a tight line, leaving Lorenzo to try an unlikely outside pass. Soon back on Rossi's rear wheel, Lorenzo never found the gap he was looking for and crossed the finish line just 0.099sec behind The Doctor.
Pushing Rossi so hard is exceptional under any circumstances, but Lorenzo was also nursing shoulder and foot injuries from the previous Laguna Seca round.
“Today was a very hard race because this track is slow and twisty and you have to use all the strength in your body to ride at the maximum,” he said. “Keeping pace with Valentino today was a big challenge for me, especially since I'm not at full fitness after Laguna, so I am happy that I was able to push him until the end.
“Passing him was very difficult because he braked hard and late every time, and in fact I made a bit of a mistake because I thought there were a few more laps left when I passed him!” he revealed.
“I hoped to overtake him and then try to pull away but it didn't work out today. Of course I'm disappointed to lose another very close race, it is always sad but I know that we are capable of fighting with him and considering his experience this is something I must be proud of.
“Second is important today and we still have a long way to go in this championship.”
Lorenzo, a double 2009 race winner, is now the only rider still within one race victory of Rossi, sitting 14 points behind the Italian after nine of 17 rounds.
“Considering he's not completely fit, we have to be impressed that he could fight so strongly to the end today and push Valentino to the final lap, riding at the highest level,” stated Lorenzo's team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “We have to keep going in the same way because we still have a chance in this title fight.”