The MotoGP grid will look worryingly thin again at Phillip Island on Sunday, as two high-profile riders will once again be forced to miss the Australian Grand Prix through injury. One of the names comes as no surprise: Dani Pedrosa had surgery to fix a titanium plate to his fractured collarbone two weeks ago today, and traveled to Australia hoping only to score a few points to shore up his fight to finish 2nd in the championship. But a 20-hour flight from Spain to Australia, coupled with horrific weather conditions have forced Pedrosa to reconsider, and he has decided it is simply not worth the risk.
In a statement in the Repsol Honda team press release, Pedrosa was quoted as follows: "After the operation in Spain my target was to come back in Australia. But having ridden in the three practice sessions here it's clear that it is really impossible for me to maintain a high pace because I lose strength in my arm lap-by-lap and controlling the bike gets increasingly difficult - even more so with the strong winds here. Phillip Island is a very fast circuit, I have to grip the handlebars very tightly, and this makes me very tired and gives me a lot of pain. To ride around three seconds off the pace in the race tomorrow and maybe collect just a few points wouldn't make much sense. But I think it has been worth it to at least try to ride here because we really didn't know how I would be on the bike until we tried. Now, though, I don't want to take more risks so that I can recover in time for Estoril. I discussed the situation with HRC Team Director Kazuhiko Yamano and we have the same opinion."
The other rider to decide against racing at Phillip Island tomorrow was Loris Capirossi. The Rizla Suzuki rider suffered a nasty highside late in the qualifying session, and had intended at first to continue on Sunday. But after examination in the Clinica Mobile, Capirossi was found to have pulled an abductor in his left leg, and was ruled unfit to race by the circuit's chief medical officer. Capirossi's crash add another injury to the one the Italian suffered at Sepang, when a huge crash during free practice saw him badly bruise his right heel and ankle. As Capirossi is also still recovering from surgery to the little finger on his right hand, controlling a MotoGP bike in the blustery and possibly wet conditions on the Island was apparently considered too risky.
Both Capirossi and Pedrosa now have two weeks to recover before the next Grand Prix at Estoril. Their withdrawals will see the grid cut to just 15 starters for Sunday's race.