Ever since Dani Pedrosa's monster highside during the night tests at Qatar just over a month ago, his presence at the first race of the MotoGP season, up this weekend, has been in doubt. The Spaniard came down hard during testing when track temperatures cooled, but his real misfortune was to be speared by his bike as it landed. Pedrosa fractured a wrist and reopened an old knee injury he had just had surgery to fix over the winter, requiring a skin graft to fix.
The wrist injury was painful, but was unlikely to have prevented Pedrosa to have missed the IRTA Test at Jerez, let alone the first race at Qatar. But the knee problem was much worse. The surgery required to fix the problem meant that Pedrosa's knee had to be immobilized for four weeks, and that he would have to build up motion carefully and slowly after that, to ensure the wound does not open once again. The videos of Pedrosa limping about his flat, together with reports emanating from journalists who know Pedrosa personally seemed to suggest that racing at Qatar could well be an impossibility for Pedrosa, rather than just unwise.
The good news for Pedrosa and his fans is that the Spanish star has decided he will attempt to race at Qatar. In his personal blog on the Repsol website, Pedrosa announced that he felt he would be fit enough to race. He said that he was recovering well, but he would only just be fit in time: "The truth is that time has been very tight; when the practice was held in Jerez I could only bend the knee 90º. But over the last ten days it has been getting better and in the end, making use of the time right up to the last moment, we have decided to go to Qatar and race in the first round of the 2009 World Championship."
Pedrosa also frankly acknowledges the risk he is taking. "I am pleased that I can return to racing this weekend, but I have to tell you that I am not 100% fit, so I am well aware that I will be at a disadvantage in Qatar," he wrote. But the Spaniard feels he has no choice if he is to keep his title hopes alive. "Even though I have made good use of the last two weeks and we have made good progress, I am aware that in Qatar I will only be able to win a few points, but points which at the end of the season could be very valuable. The overriding reason being not to begin the second race of the season with a gap of 25 points to make up on my rivals."
And Pedrosa's situation found caught between a rock and a very hard place indeed. If Pedrosa does not ride, he starts the season 25 points behind two of the toughest rivals ever to have graced a MotoGP track. But if he does race, and crashes, he could make his injury much worse, and leave him 25 points behind with the prospect of missing even more races. If the 2009 MotoGP championship is going to be a fair contest between the greatest riders in the world, Dani Pedrosa needs to be fit, and needs to be racing. Here's hoping he can do both.