Andrea Dovizioso was left with tyre marks on his leathers as a reminder of his role in an exciting victory battle in Sunday's Indianapolis MotoGP.
The Ducati rider bolted from second on the grid to lead into Turn 1, before being swiftly passed by Valentino Rossi. But Dovizioso refused to give up and attacked the Yamaha rider over the next five laps.
“In the early laps it was great fun to fight at the front of the leading group: there were also some aggressive contact moves but they were OK, because I was the fifth 'intruder' and no one wanted to lose touch with Marquez!” said Dovizioso.
The battle culminated in Dovizioso making the most of a new, more powerful, Ducati engine to draft past Rossi along the main straight at the start of lap 6 of 27. Desperate to try and get away from Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi immediately retaliated, bumping Dovizioso wide at Turn 3.
“I think Valentino didn't push 100 percent of the time so I was able to fight a little bit and overtake him in Turn 1. Then he tried to overtake me where there wasn't a space [points to black marks on his leathers]. Fortunately, nobody crashed.”
The incident allowed both Marquez and Lorenzo to pass the pair. Suffering more than most as tyre grip reduced, Dovizioso lost fourth to Marquez's Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa at the midway stage and was later passed by Tech 3 Yamaha riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith.
“We knew it was very difficult to keep a lap time,” he said. “First, to keep that speed I had to use the energy, and second, the tyre. To keep that speed I had to use more [lean] angle than the first four riders. I wasn't able to keep that speed.”
Nevertheless Dovizioso, tenth and 40s from victory last year, felt it had been a positive performance.
“Today we really have to be happy in any case. Even though the final gap was 20 seconds and we were unable to fight until the very end, we can leave Indianapolis quite satisfied because we were simply much quicker.”
Team-mate Cal Crutchlow finished in eighth place.
“If somebody had offered me an eighth place on Friday I would have took it,” said the Englishman, heading to LCR Honda at the end of the season. “To be so far off the winner is disappointing, as always.
“I think we needed to get through the race after the operation I had [on both arms]. We needed to finish. This race is difficult and it's a quite physical, demanding circuit. I was pleasantly surprised. We never had too many dramas.
“I lost the race in the start of the first ten laps. Afterwards, I could have held a decent pace but I made too many mistakes. You live and learn and hopefully Brno next week will be a little bit better.”