Any chance that Dani Pedrosa had of snatching the 2010 MotoGP championship from the grasp of Jorge Lorenzo disappeared on Friday at Motegi, when the Repsol Honda rider suffered a nasty crash which fractured his collarbone. Pedrosa flew straight back to Spain to have the collarbone plated, in the hope of making a speedy return to racing. Realistically, though, his hopes were gone, for Pedrosa would have to win the remaining four MotoGP rounds, while Jorge Lorenzo would have to score next to no points in the rest of the races for Pedrosa to become champion. Beating Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner is hard enough when Pedrosa is fit, let alone a week after breaking his collarbone in three places.
In a press release issued today by the Repsol Honda team, Pedrosa explained that his recovery was progressing well, but he implicitly conceded that his chances of the title were gone. Though he did not rule out a return at Malaysia, both the team and Pedrosa judged the chances of that happening as being "very small". Pedrosa is suffering from a lot of stiffness in his neck and his shoulders, and is still incapable of moving his arm under his own strength. He is undergoing physiotherapy to help fix the problem, but it requires time for his shoulder to be strong enough to race again.
Pedrosa will now aim at making his return at Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix. The Phillip Island track does not have very many hard braking zones, which would make it easier on Pedrosa's collarbone, but he will still be far from full fitness once he arrives in Australia.
Below is the text of the Repsol Honda press release, in which Pedrosa talks about his condition:
NEXT STOP MALAYSIA FOR THE REPSOL HONDA TEAM
The busiest phase of the 2010 MotoGP season sees the Repsol Honda Team arriving in Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur this week for the second of three races in three weekends. After Sunday's Grand Prix of Japan in which Andrea Dovizioso took a close second place, the factory Honda squad will be looking for another competitive showing from the Italian rider at a circuit he rates as one of his favourites.
His team-mate Dani Pedrosa is still in Spain recuperating from the surgery he underwent on Saturday to plate the fractured collarbone he suffered during practice for the Grand Prix of Japan. The 25-year-old left hospital on Monday after the successful operation and returned for a further check-up today. Following the medical consultation, the target for Pedrosa's return to racing is the Australian Grand Prix beginning on October 15, although Pedrosa said today as he left hospital that there remains a very slim chance he will st ill make the trip to Malaysia for this weekend's race.
Dovizioso's impressive ride to second place in Japan last Sunday marked a welcome return to the podium and has elevated him to fourth in the World Championship ahead of Valentino Rossi, while reconfirming his status as a rider who can challenge for MotoGP wins. The 24-year-old took his first pole position in the premier class in Japan, and wasn't out of the top two places in any session throughout the weekend.
As he arrives in Malaysia, Dovizioso knows he has what it takes to extract the very best from his Honda RC212V over a single lap and also for the full race distance. Sepang is a circuit the Italian loves - it was the scene of his first ever MotoGP podium in his debut season in 2008, and was also the place where he clinched his 125cc World Championship in 2004. Nothing less than another rostrum appearance, preferably in top spot, will satisfy Dovizioso on Sunday.
The S epang circuit is one of the favourites of the season with the MotoGP riders thanks to its varied nature: abundant fast corners, technical slower sections, fast straights and elevation changes. The Malaysian Grand Prix is also a very tough physical challenge thanks to the heat which often sees afternoon temperatures at Sepang rising to nearly 40 degrees. Combined with high humidity, this makes this event one of the most grueling races of the season for riders, testing their fitness and endurance to the limit. Track action begins on Friday with an hour of free practice beginning at 13.55 (GMT + 8 hours).
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – World Championship Position 4th – 159 points
"I'm really looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix. We arrive in a strong condition after not only an important podium finish in Motegi last Sunday, but also an entire race weekend where we were fast and consistent during every session. We made some good progress with the electronics and the machine set-up through the weekend, and so we arrive in Sepang in even better shape than Motegi. Our performance last weekend was the result of hard work - it was not by chance - and in Malaysia we can do even better. I really like the Sepang race track - it's one of my favourites and I have had good results in all GP classes, including my first MotoGP podium in 2008. I like Sepang because it is a ‘complete' circuit with a nice combination of fast and slow sections, and also the circuit is wide so you can use different lines. All in all I'm very confident we can h ave another strong weekend."
DANI PEDROSA – World Championship Position 2nd – 228 points
"I am still very stiff in my neck and across the back of my shoulders, so the target is to get back to racing in Australia. There is a very small possibility of going to Malaysia, but the realistic target is Australia. I had another check-up today and it shows clearly that the plate on my collarbone is very well fixed and the progress has been good after the operation. My condition has improved over the last two days and I'm doing passive rehabilitation with my physiotherapist at the moment. I am still not able to move the arm by myself but with massage it's getting better. It's a real pity that this happened when we had such a lot of momentum with our results, but we simply have to deal with it."