Jorge Lorenzo faces a test of character in Sunday's German MotoGP after falling twice during qualifying, leaving him eleventh on the grid.
The Movistar Yamaha rider began the event with a fast Turn 11 tumble on a chilly Friday morning, then continued to struggle on his way to 16th in the afternoon.
A gain of just one place in Saturday's FP3 forced Lorenzo into the unfamiliar Qualifying 1 session, where he was again sent bouncing through the gravel, at Turn 8.
Fortunately he had already set a lap good enough to reach the Q2 pole position shootout - where he promptly fell for a third time, at Turn 1, again losing the front. To put that into perspective, Lorenzo hadn't fallen more than three times in an entire season since 2012, but has already chalked-up eight accidents in 2016.
However speaking in the paddock on Saturday evening, Lorenzo insisted he understood why each of his falls had occurred and was buoyed by his speed. Lorenzo's fastest (complete) lap in Q1 would have been good enough for fifth on the grid if he had repeated it in Q2 and he was on target for a better time.
“I have the same tyres as everyone and I crashed more, so for sure I did something wrong,” Lorenzo began. “Yesterday I pushed too much in this corner for the cold conditions. The first crash today was because I took too much kerb on the entry to the corner and with the Michelin it was not possible. The second crash, maybe I didn't warm up the right side of the tyre enough and I just lost the front.
“So three mistakes on my part. It is not normal that I make so many mistakes. But this weekend it's happened. I'm disappointed about the crashes and disappointed about the position. But finally I could see some big improvement on the bike.
“Every practice we improved the bike and finally in Qualifying 1 I was very competitive with new tyre. The lap I crashed I was improving by a few tenths, a '21.5-'21.4. Then we made another modification for Qualifying 2, but we didn't have enough new tyres.
“We exited with an old tyre and I was impressed with the lap time, a '22.0, so I expected a '21.4-'21.5 with the new tyre. With that time I could have been on the first or second row. But unfortunately I couldn't finish the lap and it's a bad grid position, but it's where I finished.”
Lorenzo has won 64 times in grand prix, but never at the tight and twisty Sachsenring.
“The slow corners, maybe,” he suggested. “Normally I'm a bit better on right corners than the left. I have more victories with right-side tracks. So that could be a reason. But you know I finished second here for four years and I think we made a mistake this weekend about the setting.
“We tried a different kind of setting and then finally we came back to a normal, standard setting from this year and improved so much. So we made a mistake and lost the way a little bit. This together with the cold conditions yesterday and being very far from the top complicated everything.
“But the race is tomorrow and I'm happy that we understood why we were so slow yesterday. I've crashed many times - once yesterday and twice today - but I prefer to crash two or three times and be more or less competitive, than not crash and not be competitive.”
Lorenzo may also have to contend with a wet race, should forecasts of Sunday afternoon rain prove correct. That would be another challenge, having struggled to tenth last time at Assen.
“We have to see how I feel. Don't enter the track with a negative mentality, go positively and try to feel good on the bike,” he said of his approach to a wet race.
Lorenzo starts the final event before the summer break 24-points behind Marc Marquez and 18 in front of his team-mate Valentino Rossi, who will start first and third respectively.
By Peter McLaren