This was the moment that Jorge Lorenzo's hopes of winning the 2009 MotoGP World Championship were dealt a mortal blow - the Spaniard crashing at high-speed after tagging the back of Nicky Hayden into turn one of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

Starting fourth on the grid, Lorenzo was passed on either side by Hayden and fellow Ducati rider Mika Kallio off the line - but when Hayden braked for turn one Lorenzo rammed into the back of the American, damaging his front brake in the process.

Unable to make the turn, Lorenzo lost control of his Fiat Yamaha and was dumped onto the asphalt before bouncing through the grass and gravel.

Although he walked away from the high-speed accident, the four-time 2009 race winner was taken to the medical centre were he was treated for mild cuts to his nose and the little finger of his right hand.

Lorenzo's injuries will have only a short time to heal, with free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix taking place on Friday, but it is his title hopes that suffered the most.

Having closed to within 18 points of team-mate and reigning world champion Valentino Rossi with three rounds to go, Lorenzo is now 38 points behind with only 50 points still undecided, after the Italian finished second to Casey Stoner on Sunday.

"I'm a little bit sad for this crash, not for the championship but for my mistake; I didn't expect this kind of mistake from myself," said Lorenzo. "It was totally my fault, I miscalculated the distance off the line and Nicky braked earlier than I was expecting and I hit him.

"I thought I could save it but my front brake was broken and so when I tried to brake for the corner I couldn't and the rear made a big slide. I have a bit of damage to my nose and my finger but it could have been a lot worse.

"This is what happens in racing and, although I am disappointed about the race, the most important thing is that I am not badly injured.

"I want to say sorry to Nicky because I ruined his race today.

"As for the points, the title was a long shot anyway and now I just want to look forward to the final two races," he declared.

"The championship is basically finished for us now but we will look forward to the last two races and continue as we were before," added team manager Daniele Romagnoli. "At the end of the day, we're lucky that Jorge didn't pick up worse injuries in a crash like this so we will count ourselves lucky and move on to Malaysia."

The impact pushed Hayden straight on at turn one and, although he remained on two wheels, the time lost meant the American finished 15th and last.

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