Hiroshi Aoyama's rookie season in MotoGP has not been easy. The last ever 250cc World Champion entered MotoGP in a brand new team on a satellite Honda and had spent his time slowly getting up to speed, all the while struggling with a wrist problem. Then, just as the Interwetten Honda rider seemed to be getting to grips with the new class, fate dealt him a cruel blow in the form of a Sunday morning cold-tire highside at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Aoyama fractured his T12 vertebra, and was out for at least three months.
Rejecting surgery, Aoyama decided to let the fracture heal naturally. Speaking to MotoMatters.com at Brno on Saturday, Aoyama explained that the alternative would have been to have the vertebra above and below fused together, and though that would have allowed the Interwetten Honda rider to return to action more quickly, it would also have permanently restricted his range of motion, complicating the process of learning to ride. Aoyama's decision not to have surgery was vindicated two days later, when the Japanese rider tested the Interwetten Honda RC212V once again, and immediately set times faster than Alex de Angelis, the rider who had been drafted in to replace Aoyama during his absence.
After the encouraging test at Brno, Aoyama returned to Barcelona to undergo further medical examinations, to see how his back had coped with riding a MotoGP bike again. The good news for Aoyama and his Interwetten Honda team is that the Japanese rider was given the green light to return to racing. Aoyama will now make his return at Indianapolis, just over nine weeks after his injury at Silverstone, the team announced today in a press release. Aoyama will then take the next three races to get back up to pace, to be in the best possible form for his home Grand Prix at Motegi on October 3rd. Below is the text of the press release from the Interwetten Honda team:
INTERWETTEN HONDA MotoGP TEAM: Hiro's comeback in Indianapolis
A never-ending absence of Hiroshi Aoyama, who crashed at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone back in June and fractured his 12th vertebra in the Warm up, seems to be officially over, as Aoyama will come back to action for the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis after recovering from his injury during the last two months.
Today Aoyama got the final okay from his doctor in Barcelona to ride his Honda RC212V again and to come back to action in Indianapolis. Already at the post race test in Brno/Czech Republic a week ago the 28-year-old Japanese proved that he is ready to come back to the racing action, but he and his team were careful about the decision. Aoyama did not fracture a leg, it is his back that is damaged and this injury needs more of recovery time.
Nine weeks, more than two months after the crash, Aoyama can't wait to get back on his bike and race against the other top riders of the premier class, the highest class of motorcycle racing. Indianapolis, the eleventh Grand Prix of this season so far is the perfect opportunity to show that he still knows how to race a bike and the Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team and his fans are looking forward to welcome him back.
"I am so happy that I am finally coming back. Today I had another X-Ray and the doctor confirmed me that my broken vertebra looks good and did not change its shape, which is essential in this state of the injury. I got the okay to ride in Indianapolis and I can't wait to get back on my bike. Of course I want to be fast, but first I have to gain my confidence and feeling with the bike back, then I can concentrate on being fast. It will not be easy after such a long time away to ride with the group again, but step by step I will get there I get my strength back from the start of the season. I missed six races, that is a lot and I have to see how I can cope with the situation after such a long time and how I can cope with the pain level. I am so happy to finally come back."
Daniel M. Epp, Team Manager:
"After the successful test in Brno and the further training Hiro was concentrating on during the last couple of weeks, he got the final okay from his doctor in Barcelona to come back to active racing. The back is healing very well and this supports the decision of Hiro to come back now to Indy. We will give him time to get his strength from the beginning of the season back during the next two or three races and then we will see where he can be. We all look forward to welcome him back in our team."