Moto2 title leader Marc Marquez was lucky to escape injury when he left his bike in neutral for the start of Sunday's Japanese Moto2 Grand Prix - but still won the race!
“I made a huge mistake on the start - it was a rookie mistake,” he said.
“When I engaged first gear I noticed something strange, but at that moment I was only focusing on the lights and on making a good start. I didn't think to check that the gear had slotted in correctly.
“When the lights went out I found I was still in neutral and the first thing to cross my mind was to hope that nobody hit me from behind.
“It wasn't just because I didn't want to miss the race, but rather that the other rider and myself could have been very badly hurt.
“I had a lot of luck in that respect, but on the opening corner I was very far back and had to give 100% on the early laps.”
Marquez quickly made progress up the order, from ninth at the end of the first lap to second place on lap 7, then the lead on lap 10 of 23.
Championship Pol Espargaro applied late pressure, but Marquez was able to hold on for his eighth win of the season.
“When I saw that I wasn't with the lead group, my aim was to take as many points as possible. However, I surprised myself with how I moved up places and reached the frontrunners,” he said.
“From then on, I took things much more calmly when it came to overtaking.
“From the midway point through to the end we had a better pace than in qualifying, which is very positive as Motegi is a track where the Kalexs go very well. To take 25 points here is important."
Marquez can win his second world title if he loses no more than three points to Espargaro next Sunday at Sepang in Malaysia, round 16 of 18.