The fractured collarbone Dani Pedrosa sustained at Motegi could not have come at a worse time for the Repsol Honda rider. Pedrosa and his team had finally sorted the Honda RC212V, and with Pedrosa on blistering form, were starting to reel in Jorge Lorenzo. Actually snatching the championship from the Fiat Yamaha rider looked to be almost impossible, but they were going to make it as tough as possible for Lorenzo all the way to the end. The crash also came at the first of three flyaway races on three consecutive weekends, giving Pedrosa virtually no time to recover from the triple fracture. Complicating things further was the distance Pedrosa would have to travel to seek medical assistance, flying from Japan back to Barcelona for surgery, and then back out to Malaysia or Australia for his next race.
In the end, Pedrosa decided to skip the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, but the Repsol Honda team have just announced that Pedrosa will be back at Phillip Island. The Spaniard was due to fly out to Australia on Monday, giving him as much time to recover and prepare for the race as possible. Pedrosa's fractured collarbone is healing well, the titanium plate holding the fragments together doing its job perfectly. But the Repsol Honda man is still suffering with stiffness in his neck and shoulder, and will be receiving physiotherapy in Australia to help deal with the problem. Pedrosa's objective is to hold on to his 2nd place in the MotoGP Championship, where he leads Valentino Rossi by 47 points. With just three races to go, that should be an achievable goal, though Pedrosa will have to score points consistently to ensure his place in the standings is safe.
Below is the Repsol Honda press release announcing Pedrosa's return:
REPSOL HONDA TEAM BACK TO FULL STRENGTH FOR AUSTRALIA
The Repsol Honda Team arrives in Australia this week ready to contest the third of three MotoGP races on consecutive weekends. A buoyant Andrea Dovizioso will be aiming to continue his recent front-running form and challenge for the win at the picturesque Phillip Island circuit, as he did so impressively at the previous two races in Japan and Malaysia. Joining him once more in the Repsol Honda garage will be Dani Pedrosa who is making a swift return to racing after missing the last two Grands Prix following surgery to fix the collarbone he broke in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Pedrosa departs Barcelona for Australia today (Monday) and will have a few days down under to acclimatise to the time difference before his first outing on the RC212V in Friday practice. The 25-year-old Spaniard, who is continuing with physiotherapy after the successful operation to fix a titanium plate to his fractured collarbone, is under no illusions about the ch allenge that awaits him: Phillip Island is a fast and physical circuit which requires commitment and strength to master. But Pedrosa has previous experience of riding while recovering from injury and, though he will be taking nothing for granted, another podium visit this weekend is not beyond the realms of possibility. With the world championship title now decided in favour of Lorenzo, Pedrosa is determined to defend second place and the 47 point lead he has over Valentino Rossi.
Dovizioso is on a roll at the moment, having come so close to victory at the last two races. Indeed in last Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix the Italian was just 0.224s behind race winner and renowned Sepang specialist Valentino Rossi after 20 hard fought laps. It was the closest finish of the MotoGP season so far and Dovizioso’s performance demonstrates his readiness to score his first dry-weather MotoGP victory. Dovizioso’s recent strong results have rekindled his season, and thi rd place in the championship is his clear and achievable target - with Rossi just two points ahead and Stoner only one in front of Dovizioso.
The 4.448km (2.764-mile) Phillip Island circuit always promises exciting racing, a vibrant atmosphere and highly unpredictable weather. Its beautiful and exposed seaside location guarantees a unique spectacle, and the high-speed curves and flowing undulations make Phillip Island a favourite venue with many MotoGP riders. Track action gets under way on Friday with practice starting at 13.55 (GMT + 11 hours).
DANI PEDROSA – World Championship position 2nd – 228 points
"It was hard to take the decision to not go to Malaysia, but after another week I feel it was the right thing to do because during these days my condition has improved quite a lot. So I'm looking forward to getting to Australia and finding out how I feel on the bike. I will arrive at Phillip Island on Wednesday to have some time to recover from the flight and rest a little bit. I know it will be tough because Phillip Island is a very demanding track and also the weather conditions can play a big part, but I really believe it's time to come back with my team and try to return to the high level of performance we had before the crash in Japan. After the operation I began rehabilitation immediately. The surgery was very successful and the plate was well fixed, so the main problem was not the collarbone but the stiffness in my neck and all around my shoulders. I've been ha ving massage and doing exercises with my physiotherapist and I will keep this up in Australia. The championship is decided, but for us it's still not over. The target now is to retain second place in the standings and continue working on the bike so that we arrive in good shape for the winter tests, when we will start working for next year."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – World Championship position 5th – 179 points
"We arrive in Australia in a strong position with two consecutive podium finishes under our belts from two tracks with very different layouts and race day temperatures. This means that we have made a big step forward. We have improved things a lot in terms of set up and electronics, and now we are able to fight for wins. On Sunday in Malaysia we finished just two tenths from Valentino, and we need to stay at that level and be consistent. Also, in the last two races there were two different winners, while we have been consistent in second place. So I'm confident that we can also be competitive at Phillip Island; a very demanding and technical track, and one of the fastest on the calendar. We aim to finish third in the world championship this season, so we need to score good results in the remaining races. Phillip Island is a very spectacular place; the circuit is very close to the ocean and this makes it unique. The atmosphere on race day is always really good because there are a lot of fans who are truly passionate. The real unknown is always the weather as it’s always very changeable and it can be really cold. Anyway, cold conditions are not an issue for us so we are very confident for the Australian GP."