Ever since Dani Pedrosa broke his wrist and reopened an old wound on his knee, his participation at the first race in Qatar has been in doubt. The skin graft to his knee meant that the Spaniard's leg had to be completely immobilized for 4 weeks. There was little chance that he would ever make it to the IRTA Test at Jerez, but the Repsol Honda team had hoped to have Pedrosa back for the opening race at Qatar.
That was optimistic, and Pedrosa was never going to be at 100% for Qatar, but the possibility of even riding is looking ever more remote. The World Superbike paddock is not the first place you would expect news about MotoGP to surface, but as the series is currently in Valencia, there's a large contingent from the Spanish press present, and wherever the press gather, rumors persist.
The latest rumor among some of the well-informed sections of the Spanish press is that Pedrosa will not be riding at Qatar. His condition is not improving fast enough, and he will instead choose to sit the first MotoGP round out, in the hope of being in better shape to contest the rest of the season. The decision is a sensible one, as the night race at Qatar can prove treacherous, with temperatures dropping rapidly, making setup and grip unpredictable at best. Missing one race would leave Pedrosa at a distinct disadvantage in the championship race, but racing with the risk of crashing and making his injury worse could potentially rule the Spaniard out of title contention.
So far, no official word has been forthcoming from the team, and it is unlikely to emerge until shortly before the race itself. But we should learn soon enough whether this rumor is just that, or whether the MotoGP championship will start its opening round with just 17 riders.