Loris Capirossi came into the three back-to-back races at Barcelona, Assen and Donington
Park tied for the MotoGP
World Championship lead - but leaves them only fifth in the standings.
The reason for the Ducati rider's sudden decline was a huge race-stopping first turn accident at the Catalan Grand Prix - ignited by contact under braking between Capirossi and team-mate Sete Gibernau
- which resulted in six riders falling.
Of those six, Capirossi, Gibernau and Fortuna Honda's Marco Melandri
were the most badly hurt - each requiring hospital treatment and, in Gibernau's case, surgery on a broken collarbone.
Nevertheless, both Capirossi and Melandri chose to try and ride through the considerable pain of their upper body injuries at both Assen and Donington
to limit the championship damage: A clearly uncomfortable Capirossi faired the worst, finishing just 15th at Assen and then ninth at Donington
to slip 46 points behind championship leader Nicky Hayden.
"I have big internal bruising on the left side," explained Loris, who compared the pain to being stabbed repeatedly with a knife. "It is a bad position as I use it all the time moving the bike left to right. I've tried painkilling injections but they do nothing, the problem is inside not outside."
Despite the Catalunya accident, and resulting injuries, the 33-year-old says he wasn't tempted to call time on his long grand prix career: "Sometimes you think about stopping when you get injured, but my passion is greater. That is why I rode at Assen and Donington. I hope (looks up) someone is looking after me..."
Part of the reason for the magnitude of the Catalunya accident was contact with Gibernau's front brake lever when the Ducati riders collided - which caused Sete's bike to flip spectacularly into the air (middle pic) and contributed to Capirossi and Melandri falling when they collided soon after.
To help protect the front brake in such situations, it has been suggested that hand guards - similar to those used in off-road racing - should be fitted.
"It is difficult to argue against that," said Loris. "We should put something there but it is difficult to find a perfect solution. There is also talk about having a bigger fairing to cover the levers."
Meanwhile, although Ducati was the first manufacturer to officially debut its new-for-2007 800cc machine - on May 2 - it has so far only been ridden by test rider Vittoriano Guareschi.
As a result of his injuries, Capirossi won't test the 800cc bike "until after Brno" on August 20 and will instead focus on regaining fitness ahead of the German Grand Prix on July 16, when Gibernau is also scheduled to return.