Finishing that close to a podium – a bit over half a second – after you've been riding around in baking heat for 45 minutes and in the top three for a lot of that time was a hard one to swallow at Jerez, but all things considered I was pretty happy with getting a good load of points to start the year. One, it was bloody hot (that's twice I've mentioned that already, there'll be more), and two, I was kind of in damage limitation mode when I started to lose some feeling in my hand around halfway through the race. Racing at Jerez is tough at the best of times with how physical this track is, so in the end, I was happy to bring it home and move on.
Jerez is always one of the most physical tracks we go to whatever the weather, but this weekend, absolutely scorching hot … it definitely made things tougher. It was probably good for you guys watching at home with a bit of chaos in the race and whatnot, maybe not so much for all of us. It was pretty brutal out there, just the heat off one bike when you were following was massive. It’s like riding into a hairdryer as it is, but when you're behind someone for a long while, it’s like there's a heat gun pointed right at your face.
I was pretty hopeful that a podium could have been mine, but saying that there was a big old hatful of people who could go for a top three. I've never done well here, sixth two years ago is the only time I've actually finished in the points since I've been in MotoGP. It's not much of a Ducati track either, usually. So for 'Dovi' (Andrea Dovizioso) and me to finish third and fourth, that's pretty good for Ducati. There's a couple of tracks coming up where she can stretch her legs and show what we've really got, so that makes me optimistic.
So, my hand. I had some numbness with maybe 12 laps to go … we're not 100 per cent sure yet, but I reckon it's something to do with the position on the handlebars, which is something that I had last year at Jerez too. Basically it's because of this track layout, your body is always outside the bike. We all hang half our hand off the handlebar grip in the right-hand corners and I could feel the tendon hurting in the heel of my hand on the brake protector. On the left corners it wasn't a problem, and under braking it wasn't an issue at all.
Once that numbness started, I felt that a podium was going to be a long shot, even if it took another five or six laps for Maverick (Vinales) to pass me for second. From then on I was a little bit of a sitting duck, so it was good that I only lost one other spot, to 'Dovi' with a lap and a half left. I still had some decent tyre life left but I wasn't able to be as smooth on the throttle as I wanted to be because of the hand numbness, so at least we have a chance to get this right for next week when we'll do it all over again.
Mentally, a race like that is a serious challenge. When there's 12 laps to go and your hand is numb, that's a bit depressing. When Fabio (Quartararo) crept away I decided not to think about chasing him and concentrate on doing my own thing, My body was absolutely cooking out there, my hands and feet were boiling and it was mentally draining. But the good thing was that I never felt out of breath, so all the fitness training I've been doing and the work I did at home in Australia when the season got postponed was worth it. I guess you don't need to post a load of photos of yourself with your shirt off training to prove you're fit enough to ride a bike, right?!
I feel the bike should have been on the podium, we were fast enough, but we have a large number of races in a small amount of time with this season being what it is, so the most important thing was to finish and bank some good points. (Alex) Rins was out this week and probably next week too, Cal (Crutchlow) was pretty sore and Marc (Marquez's) crash was massive, it was a big old high side. So we're fourth in the championship and there's some fast guys behind, so the goal next week is to be on the podium and make sure we capitalise on this first race. We'll give it another crack.