Wayne Rainey returned to the Misano circuit for the first time since being paralyzed during a terrible crash in 1993.
Yamaha legend and triple 500GP world champion Wayne Rainey returned to the Misano circuit for the first time since his career was ended in a horrific accident at the San Marino venue in 1993. The Californian was paralyzed in a crash and has never returned to the circuit since that fateful day 18 years ago. But Rainey, who won the 1990, ’91 and ’92 world titles for Yamaha, was back in Misano as part of Yamaha’s 50th anniversary celebrations of racing in MotoGP.
Rainey said he had not made the trip to erase any ghosts from the past and that returning to the scene of his life-changing crash had not been an emotionally charged moment.
“Yamaha asked me to go to a race in Europe for the 50th anniversary but my son Rex was going off to university and I had some other commitments, so it was going to be the Czech Republic,” said Rainey. “But that didn’t work for Yamaha and in the end it didn’t work me. Misano became the only race that worked for both of us, so I never really thought about coming back here until that point. It has been real positive. There is probably lot of stuff I don’t recall like driving up here when Shae (Rainey’s wife) told me where the hospital was and I knew it was a helicopter ride but I didn’t know where it was.”
Jorge Lorenzo: “It was really special that Wayne came here after so many years and he had the opportunity to be on the podium. I know him well because I have been training on Kenny Roberts’ ranch and he is a really kind person and he always gives me good advice, so to be with him was really special.”
Asked for his thoughts on returning to Misano, he added: “I thought about it a long time ago but I haven’t thought about it in a long time. If I thought it was going to be a problem I wouldn’t have come and as it happened it’s not a problem at all. You race motorcycles and these things happen, it is part of the sport. I didn’t crash a lot in my career but I hit the ground hard when I did, so I was surprised that I was able to walk away from some those others unlike this last one. But the last one did it.”
Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner all spoke of their pride and pleasure at later sharing the Misano MotoGP podium with Rainey, who collected the manufacturers trophy on behalf of Yamaha after Lorenzo’s victory.
Lorenzo, who cut Stoner’s title lead to 35-points with five races remaining, said: “It was really special that Wayne came here after so many years and he had the opportunity to be on the podium. I know him well because I have been training on Kenny Roberts’ ranch and he is a really kind person and he always gives me good advice, so to be with him was really special.”
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa grabbed his second runner-up spot in the space of a week and he too was honored to be on the podium with Rainey.
The Spaniard said: “I was very happy to see him again because I met him for the first time in 2006 when I went to Laguna Seca for the first time. We had a great time together and it was a long time since I’d seen him. Maybe it was very emotional for him to come here, so I hope he had a good time and a good welcome from all of us. For me it was a pleasure to be with him.”
World Championship leader Stoner, who faded to third with chronic fatigue in the hot and humid conditions, added: “When you see Wayne go around the paddock there is immediate respect for him. It is something special for him to come back to this track after so many years and to be on the podium with him on this sort of occasion is pretty special. He’s somebody I’d have liked to sit down and ask a lot of questions to. He’s not just got a lot of experience but also a lot of good stories to tell and it would be an absolute pleasure to sit down with him one day.”