New footage has shown how close MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami was to a life-threatening injury when his helmet visor was ripped off by an opponent’s tyre.
The Catalunya Grand Prix will go down in history for the most bizarre finishes when Aleix Espargaro started celebrating second place a lap early, only to be overtaken by five riders before realizing his mistake.
The race ended with an equally bizarre occurrence when the lights went out at the start, with a pile-up of three drivers at turn one.
LCR Honda’s Nakagami dropped the front of his bike in the turn, knocking out Alex Rins and last season’s runner-up Francesco Bagnaia.
Suzuki’s Rins broke his wrist after being thrown through the air, while Nakagami spent the night in hospital, but things could have been much worse.
New footage released by MotoGP shows Nakagami going headfirst into the rear wheel of Bagnaia’s Ducati, with the spinning gear slamming his head into the seat of the bike.
The Japanese pilot had his visor ripped off by the impact as his head flew backwards and luckily bounced away from danger.
But Nakagami was lucky to avoid injuring his eyes or even breaking his neck as race winner and defending champion Fabio Quatararo said the worst could have happened.
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“It wasn’t a racing incident, because you don’t attack a lot,” said the Frenchman.
“I don’t know how it is possible that Pecco [Bagnaia] was second and Nakagami was way off, how can he manage to touch his head on Pecco’s wheel.
“It’s not a racing incident. I think in the early laps we all have to be aware that we are racing big bikes, the weight is at least 160 kilos and if you get hit by a bike like this you can die.
The second, Jorge Martin, agreed: “For me, it’s not a racing incident. I think they should have already penalized Nakagami at Mugello because he was not penalized and now he thinks he can do anything.
“So now he’s starting again and if they don’t penalize him he’ll do the same in the next race.
“So it’s dangerous for the rest. He broke Alex Rins’ wrist, he also risked something important for him, it’s his head.
Rins is now likely to miss track time after fracturing his wrist and had a stern warning for his competitor.
The Spaniard said: “Well, honestly, first of all, I hope Taka is fine, because I saw him with his face [in pain] very bad. But he can’t go on like this. He can’t ride like that.
“You never want a runner, a rival to get injured, OK… but he was over the limit in that action. That’s the first thing I want to say.
“But the second thing is that it’s unacceptable. We can’t go on like this. The race direction, the marshals, don’t make sense of what they say.
“It’s crazy. It’s sure, and today they demonstrated it on TV, that the stewards are not at the level of MotoGP.”
It was confirmed by the local hospital that Nakagami only suffered pain in his right shoulder due to the incident, but narrowly avoided “serious head injuries”.