With the season not yet even started, beds in the MotoGP sick bay have already been filling up. Kawasaki's John Hopkins suffered a very painful groin injury after a fall at Phillip Island, and Dani Pedrosa had even worse luck, breaking a bone in his hand in a huge crash on the first day of testing after the winter ban ended. Both men had question marks hanging over the start of their seasons, but luckily for them, their recovery has been remarkably swift.
This means that Hopkins and Pedrosa have both been given the green light to take part in the official Irta test at Jerez, which starts on Saturday. But though both men are keen to get back to work, they are very aware of their limitations. Dani Pedrosa told the press at the Repsol Honda team launch in Zaragoza, Spain on Thursday that he intends to first check how he feels on the bike, before starting to push for fast lap times. "I still find moving my hand very difficult. It's a bit tense in all that area."
John Hopkins will be similarly careful. He told reporters at Jerez for the Irta tests that he was determined not to have to sit out the Jerez test again like he did last year. But though Hopper will be riding, Kawasaki team manager Michael Bartholemy said that it was uncertain just how much time Hopkins would spend on the bike. Bartholemy stated it was more likely to be three half days, rather than three full days, to ensure the American did not aggravate his torn muscle.
Hopper's weekend had already gotten off to a bad start, as his new young bride Ashleigh had suffered a bout of food poisoning on a US flight as they headed out to Europe. He will be hoping that things can only get better from here on in.