Marco Simoncelli's season got off to a bad start before it even began, when the reigning 250cc World Champion broke his wrist last Sunday riding a motocross bike. Determined to defend his title, he had the fractured scaphoid pinned in an operation on Tuesday, before flying out to take part in the first free practice session at the season opener at Qatar. It was a very short time for the wrist to heal, and was going to be an uphill struggle for Simoncelli to take part in the first race.
It was too much to ask. The Italian announced this evening that he wouldn't be trying to race at Qatar, and would be going home to concentrate on his recovery in time for the next race at Motegi in two weeks' time. Simoncelli had tried running fast laps at Qatar, and had put in respectable, if now world-shattering times, but after just a couple of laps, his wrist was becoming too painful to concentrate. Simoncelli took the wiser course, and withdrew.
Simoncelli's withdrawal leaves Alvaro Bautista in the ideal spot to gain maximum advantage in the 250cc title chase. To do that, of course, he'll have to win the race. And with a surprisingly strong Gabor Talmacsi, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Qualifying for the race is due to take place later tonight.