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Moto2 Testing Takes Heavy Toll: Binder Breaks Arm, Navarro Dislocates Shoulder

The Moto2 test at Valencia has taken a heavy toll on some of its participants. The rookies Brad Binder and Jorge Navarro both picked up serious injuries at the test, putting an end to their preseason testing for the winter. 

Binder was the most seriously injured. The reigning Moto3 champion highsided his KTM Moto2 bike at Turn 11, the bike apparently landing on his right arm and fracturing the radius, as well as damaging bones in his wrist. The South African was taken to the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona where he was examined and had a pin inserted in the broken bone. 

Navarro was marginally luckier than Binder. The Spaniard, riding for the Gresini Moto2 team, dislocated his shoulder while braking for Turn 8, and ran off into the gravel. The dislocation was severe enough for Navarro to abandon the test altogether, deciding to skip the second day of the test scheduled for Tuesday.

Navarro's dislocated shoulder is a recurrence of a persistent problem. The Spaniard has therefore elected to have surgery in the hope of providing a long term solution to the problem.

There is a silver lining to the black cloud which hovers over Navarro and Binder. They both picked up their injuries right shortly before the start of the winter testing ban. They will have a little over two months to recover from their injuries before testing starts again. They will have missed very little testing in the intervening period.

Below is the press release from the Gresini Moto2 team:


NAVARRO SUSTAINS DISLOCATED SHOULDER AT THE BEGINNING OF VALENCIA TEST

The tests scheduled for today and tomorrow at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia have unfortunately ended prematurely this morning for the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2: Jorge Navarro has in fact been forced to stop due to the dislocation of the left shoulder. The 20-year-old Spanish rider had already planned for next December 1st a shoulder surgery to solve the problem, which had already annoyed him during this season.

The injury will stop Navarro also tomorrow, therefore the preparations of the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 for the 2017 World Championship will only resume next year, after the winter break.

JORGE NAVARRO

“The test was already going very well: we had just made a change to the bike set-up and I was feeling at ease, then under braking at Turn 8 I felt the dislocation of my left shoulder. I ended up in the run-off area, and when I arrived on the gravel it was difficult to keep control of the bike, because I had no strength, and I went down, but without consequences. I have already accused this problem several times during the season because of an old injury, in fact I had already planned a surgery next December 1st. Unfortunately the problem emerged also today and I’m very sorry because I won’t be able to continue the test. Now I look forward to the surgery in order to recover as soon as possible, and resume in the best possible way my adaptation to this category”.

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The Last Gasp Before Winter - A Testing Bonanza In MotoGP, WorldSBK, Moto2 & Moto3

With just ten days to go until the winter test ban comes in to force, on 1st December, teams in both world championships are busy doing their last tests and collecting as much data as possible to take into the winter break. 

Testing is already happening on Monday, with some of the WorldSBK teams gathering in Jerez. Kawasaki, the SMR Aprilia squad, Althea BMW and Ten Kate (soon to be Red Bull) Honda are at the Jerez circuit, though the wet weather means there is little going on on track. Ten Kate are without Nicky Hayden, who has twisted his knee while practice dirt track. The WorldSBK teams are due to stay for a couple more days, and will hope that the better weather forecast for later in the week arrives sooner rather than later.

Some of the MotoGP teams will also be heading to Jerez to take part in testing from Wednesday. KTM will be there with Bradley Smith, though Yamaha have vetoed Pol Espargaro, who was riding for Tech 3 on a Yamaha factory contract. Suzuki will also be present, though only with Andrea Iannone and test rider Takuya Tsuda. The test teams from Ducati and Honda will also be present, though not the Repsol Honda riders. Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez had been due to test at Jerez this week, but decided against it. The official reason given was that they had gotten through their test program at Valencia.

While Ducati, Suzuki and KTM will be hoping for good weather at Jerez, Yamaha are almost certain of it at Sepang. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi head to the Malaysian circuit this week for a private test, along with the Tech 3 rookies of Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger. The test at Jerez will be open to the media, but the Sepang test will take place completely behind closed doors, with no media allowed. Enquiries to the circuit revealed that no media would be admitted to the circuit.

With the premier class dispersed across the globe, Moto2 and Moto3 are in Valencia. At the end of the first day of testing for the two classes, Enea Bastianini topped the Moto3 timesheets, five hundredths of a second faster than Bo Bendsneyder, now the leading rider in the KTM Red Bull Ajo team. For the Moto2 class, it was Taka Nakagami who was once again fastest, just a fraction quicker than Xavi Vierge. Best of the Moto2 rookies was Pecco Bagnaia, who was just three tenths off the pace of Nakagami.

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Scott Jones Valencia Testing Loveliness - Part 1


There was a lot of interest in the Ducati garage at Valencia. With good reason


Dani Pedrosa was one of the few riders who wasn't wearing neutral leathers. It was very nearly different


The Marc VDS riders got the same chassis Cal Crutchlow has been using all year. It made a huge difference. Jack Miller was a lot quicker


It might be Spain, but it's still cold at Valencia in the morning


Andrea Iannone, Chemical Brother


Dear Yamaha: Please can Maverick keep his test livery all year? Yours, every MotoGP fan on the planet


After both Rins and Iannone went down at Turn 12, impromptu meetings of the Safety Commission broke out in pit lane


S is for Suzuki


The Old Dog has a Young Pup to contend with


Jorge Lorenzo was relaxed and happy at the Valencia test. This should worry everybody not called Jorge Lorenzo


Takuya Tsuda, doing the donkey work for Suzuki


He wasn't fast, but he was happy. Bradley Smith showing that KTM need to work on their anti wheelie


Desmo Dovi


Tough start for Alex Rins. He fell, and injured his T8 and T12 vertebrae


Jonas Folger made a very solid debut on the Tech 3 Yamaha M1


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Scott Jones' Valencia Season Finale - Part 1


Last time out for Andrea Iannone at Ducati. He wants to go out with a bang


Jorge Lorenzo will be taking over Iannone's bike. The pressure is on to win on it


Special, stunning livery for the Aprilias, in support of an Aids charity


Dani Pedrosa is back, but his collarbone still needs icing


The wings don't always prevent wheelies, thankfully


No reason for concern. Rossi starts from the front row


End of a great working partnership. Aleix Espargaro and Tom O'Kane worked very well together during their time at Suzuki


KTM RC16. A sting in the tail?


Gone by Tuesday


Bradley Smith's helmet - a tribute to all things British. Well, all things London


Marc Marquez' normal operating procedure - front wheel in the air and crossed up


New motorized assistance for Yamaha. Unsure whether it will catch on


Currently yellow and black. On Tuesday, switching to the colors he is riding over


An old master


You want corner speed? Jorge Lorenzo has corner speed


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2016 Valencia Saturday Round Up: Making Lorenzo's Departure Bearable

2016 has been a strange year. New tires have made teams have to gamble much more on set up. New electronics have drawn the teeth of Honda and Yamaha, making it easier for Ducati, Suzuki, and to a lesser extent, Aprilia to catch up. The wet and wild weather has made it even more difficult to get set up right, with session after session lost to the rain. A wider range of competitive bikes has upped the level of competition even further. So we enter the final race of the year having already seen nine winners, and with dreams of a tenth.

That seems vanishingly unlikely. The three riders on the front row at Valencia have won ten of the seventeen rounds, with two more winners on the second row, and other two on the third row. At a track like Valencia, with so few passing opportunities, it is hard to see how a rider who hasn't won yet can make their way past the previous winners to claim victory. They will not get any assistance from the weather – the forecast looks steady and constant, not particularly warm, but dry and sunny. The only way to win the Valencia round of MotoGP is the hard way.

And then there's Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard has been up and down all season, at the tender mercies of available grip levels and the nature of the tires Michelin have brought to the races. At Valencia, everything has fallen into place. The rear tire Michelin have brought uses the more pliable carcass which was also available at Brno and Misano. The new profile front tire the French tire maker has brought is stronger in the middle of the corner, which plays to Lorenzo's strengths. And boy, is Lorenzo strong at Valencia.

Unstoppable

The timesheets told the tale even before qualifying began. Marc Márquez was fastest in both FP3 and FP4, but that was not necessarily a fair reflection of the standings. In FP3, Lorenzo did not bother pushing for a single fast lap, confident his race pace would get him through to Q2. Instead of coming in for new tires, Lorenzo stayed out for a long twelve-lap run. In FP4, he did another long run, with metronomic consistency. The rest of the field had been warned.

If he was strong in practice, during qualifying, Lorenzo was absolutely indomitable. When he took pole in 2015, Lorenzo called it a perfect lap. On Saturday, the Movistar Yamaha rider posted three laps under his 2015 time, one on each of his three runs. It turns out there is a level above perfect, and Lorenzo showed just what it was at Valencia. "Today, I was inspired," he told the press conference. "Everything I tried worked."

It was visible from the side of the track. Whichever corner I watched Lorenzo from the side of the track, he looked like the Lorenzo of old. Completely in charge of the motorcycle, smooth as butter, fast as lightning. Lorenzo has historically been fast at Valencia, and there are no indications he will be anything but fast on Sunday.

Beware of the Marquez

Can anyone stop him? Aleix Espargaro believed that someone can. "I think Marc is the strongest guy regarding the pace," the Suzuki rider told us. "Stronger than Jorge, but the difference is not huge." Márquez' run in FP3 was formidable, clearly quicker than Lorenzo's, but Lorenzo had the upper hand again in the afternoon. The Repsol Honda rider had also made life difficult for himself, by losing the front in FP4 and damaging his preferred bike. "For some reason this weekend I feel much better with that bike that I crashed than the other bike," he told the press conference. Stacking it in FP4 meant he did not have it in qualifying.

That does not mean he did not give it his all. Márquez pushed a couple of times, and was quick in the first couple of sectors. But the last part of the track is where the Yamaha really shines. In the first three sectors of the track, from the starting line round to Turn 11, Márquez was give up just over a tenth of a second. In the final sector, the run into Turn 12, then the long left of Turn 13, before the tight final corner and the run onto the straight, Márquez was losing over two tenths. That was the part of the track where Lorenzo beat the Hondas last year. The same outcome looks likely in 2016.

Valentino Rossi starts his race from a very different position to last year. In 2015, Rossi had been forced to start from the back of the grid, despite being quick during practice. This year, Rossi starts from the front row, alongside the two rivals he accused of stealing the championship last year. Rossi's pace looks to be a little off the pace of Márquez and Lorenzo, but this is Valentino Rossi. The Italian is always impressive on Friday and Saturday, but it is only on Sunday that he finally unleashes the beast. If Rossi gets away with the front early, he is in with a chance.

Dark horses

If there is one rider who can challenge the front row men on Sunday it is Maverick Viñales. The Spaniard has shown impressive pace on the Suzuki all weekend, and is pretty much on pace with Rossi at least, and maybe even faster. The Suzuki is very strong around Valencia, the tight corners playing to the strengths of the GSX-RR. Both Viñales and teammate Aleix Espargaro have been impressive, though Espargaro managed to crash out as he pushed for a final fast run. Conditions are ideal for the bike: cold weather gives them grip, and the many tight flowing turns mean that Viñales and Espargaro can use the sweet handling nature of the bike to maximum effect.

There are two Ducatis up front too, though neither Andrea Dovizioso nor Andrea Iannone were under any illusions of being competitive. They had managed a fast single lap, but consistent pace was a little harder. Valencia is tough on the Ducati, despite the fact that the bike is much improved this year. The bike is still not turning as well as it should mid corner, an issue at a track like Valencia where the bikes spend do much of their time on their sides.

Andrea Dovizioso learned in qualifying that he will be needing the soft front tire for the race on Sunday. Normally, he explained, you need support from a stiffer tire during qualifying and the race. But the hard front that had appeared to work so well during FP4 did not withstand the comparison with the soft front during qualifying. Braking stability was acceptable, but the grip was so much better. Sometimes it takes an experiment to uncover the truth.

Round rubber throwing it all away

FP4 showed a lot of riders that the hard front was not the right tire. There were seven crashes on Saturday, four of which were during FP4. Of the eight crashes throughout the weekend at Valencia, seven of them had been with the hard front tire. Turn 10, especially, was treacherous, the front letting go almost without warning once you started to push.

Tire choice is going to be key for the race, both front and rear. The hard tires at both ends of the bike have plenty of endurance, but lack the early speed needed to keep up with anyone who fits a soft rear from the start. There are some factories which will still be using the soft, however, and trying to manage their tires in the second half of the race. Thirty laps is a long time around Valencia, and the soft tire will have to be pampered to make it to the finish line.

The other team objects

Jorge Lorenzo looks like fitting the soft front and soft rear, as is his want. Valentino Rossi is yet to decide on the soft or the hard rear, though he too will probably use the soft front. At Honda, the riders have surprised their engineers by managing to run the soft front tire, in preference to the hard. Braking stability is not the issue they had feared, and the softer rear makes the bike easier to manage. There will probably be a good mixture of tires on Sunday afternoon, much of which will depend on the weather. That looks like being stable, but this is 2016, and anything can happen.

Even KTM had reason to celebrate after qualifying. The Austrian manufacturer had made up a lot of ground from the first day to the second, gaining nearly a whole second on the times they had set on Friday. They had made a step with the set up, and used the softer tires to help the bike turn. Mika Kallio was somewhat surprised, expecting to fnd a project that was some way off the pace.

The improvements which the KTM had made were clearly visible from trackside, the bike more stable on corner entry, and not losing quite so much on corner exit. The improvement had come in no small part by ditching the harder rear tire in favor of the soft one. Whether the rear would last for 30 laps was still not sure, but at least Mika Kallio would in among the tail enders, and fighting for points. KTM were obviously pleased, project leader Sebastiann Risse said afterwards. Kallio was greeted like a conquering hero by the KTM staff which thronged the garage for MotoGP.

Will we see winner number 10 on Sunday? Given stable weather, the answer is probably no. But this is 2016, and if there is one thing we have learned it is that anything could happen. Don't bet on anything for Sunday. Reality is likely to intervene, as it has so often this year.


Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2016 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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Subscriber Feature: 2006 vs 2016 - Did Mugello Cost Rossi The 2016 Title?

In two races, Valentino Rossi has cut his deficit to Marc Márquez by 35 points. He now trails the Repsol Honda rider by 42 points. All of a sudden, Márquez' lead in the championship looks a good deal less dominant, despite the Spaniard already having wrapped up the 2016 title at Motegi. Márquez' crashes at Phillip Island and Sepang have kicked off a whirlwind of "what ifs" among Valentino Rossi fans. The elusive tenth title suddenly seems a good deal closer than it was four or five races ago.

The one "what if" on the tip of fans' lips is the engine blow up at Mugello. The two Movistar Yamahas had a small but comfortable gap over Marc Márquez, and Rossi was clearly stalking Jorge Lorenzo. It was a matter of when, not if Rossi would pass his teammate. But on lap 8, Rossi's engine let go, just as Lorenzo's had in the morning. He was out of the race, and went from trailing Márquez by 7 points to being 27 points behind the Spaniard. Had Rossi won at Mugello, he would have gained 29 over Márquez (25 for the win, plus the 4-point differential between second and third for Márquez). That would have given the 2016 title a very different aspect.

Was Mugello the moment that Valentino Rossi lost the 2016 MotoGP championship? As tempting as it might be to say yes, it is a mistake to pinpoint a loss on a single result. There are 18 races in a year, and each one is so filled with incidents and events that have the potential to change the flow of a championship that singling out a particular race fails to do justice to the richness and complexity of each season. The best proof of that thesis comes in the 2006 MotoGP championship, when Valentino Rossi lost the title to Nicky Hayden by just 5 points.

One hand on the title

As the clouds of yellow smoke from the fireworks celebrating the 2006 season finale dissipated, Rossi fans immediately started trying to explain the Italian's loss. Hayden had been consistently on the podium almost all year, but had only two victories to his name. Rossi, on the other hand, had won five races, and yet still come up 5 points short. He had mounted an epic comeback from midseason, trailing Hayden by 51 points after Laguna Seca. He had cut that deficit to just 12 points before the penultimate race of the year at Estoril, and with two races to go, was the clear favorite to have staged the greatest championship comeback of all time.

This is part of a semi-regular series of insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for MotoMatters.com site supporters. The series will include background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion pieces. Though the vast majority of content on MotoMatters.com is to remain free to read, most notably the daily round ups at each MotoGP event, a select amount of content will be made available solely to those who have taken out a subscription.

The aim is to increase the number of site supporters and be able to move away from online advertising altogether, a model which is broken, as the rise of ad blockers demonstrates. Adding exclusive subscriber content adds value for site supporters, in addition to the desktop-sized versions of Scott Jones' photos for the site. The hope is that this will persuade more of our regular readers to support MotoMatters.com financially, and help us grow and improve the site. 

If you would like to become a site supporter, you can take out a subscription here. If you are already a subscriber, you can read the full feature comparing the lessons of Rossi's 2006 championship to 2016 here.

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Scott Jones Shoots Sepang - Part 2


Is Maverick the next big thing? In the dry, yes. In the wet, not so much


Spare bikes wait in pit lane, just in case


Aleix Espargaro, painting it black


Pecco Bagnaia - his outstanding form on the Mahindra speaks of big things to come in Moto2


Constant companions


Steel or carbon? Sepang is probably the only track in the world you can use both


The Dynamic Ducati Duo


This is what power looks like: Livio Suppo (left) talks with HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto


Damp Sepang skies


Do not adjust your set. Johann Zarco celebrates his Moto2 title


The MotoGP race started wet, and that kept it close


A home race for Malaysian riders Ramdan Rosli and Hafizh Syahrin means they get to celebrate with the marshals


Moto3, in a nutshell


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Scott Jones Shoots Sepang - Part 1


Sepang weather in a nutshell


Two-time winner Cal Crutchlow is quick again at Sepang


The Suzuki is fast, Maverick Viñales is faster. Candidate for a win on Sunday


Grip - the new Sepang surface has it, so Lorenzo has confidence


Mixed conditions makes for weird combinations: carbon disks with full wet tires


Marc Marquez skipped Friday afternoon, forced to spend it cloistered with his, erm, thoughts


Iannone is back, and Iannone is fast


Dovizioso - like a duck to water


Fast and slow


The Lorenzo-Michelin relationship is a lot happier at Sepang


Alvaro Bautista is getting better and better along with the Aprilia RS-GP


Fast, even when sick


Some perspective from Turn 3. It's a big place, is Sepang


Nails dream they could be as hard as Bradley Smith


Go


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Suzuki, Honda, Ducati Punished For Riders Missing Autograph Sessions

At the beginning of the year, much was made of the addition of rules governing rider behavior to the Sporting Regulations section of the FIM MotoGP rulebook. That gave the newly instituted panel of FIM Stewards, who oversee all disciplinary measures, the power to punish riders and teams for a range of activities related to the promotion of the series. The biggest worry was caused by section 1.11.4.1, which threatened punishment of riders who made public pronouncements considered harmful to the championship.

The first punishments under these new rules have been handed out, and those punishments make it clear that Dorna's main target is to prevent riders from skipping their promotional obligations which the teams commit to as part of their contract to compete in the series. At Sepang, the factory Suzuki, Honda and Ducati teams were all issued fines for their riders either missing or being late to autograph signing sessions.

Repsol Honda came off lightest. Marc Marquez missed the autograph signing session on Friday due to illness, the Spaniard still suffering with gastroenteritis. Because Honda did not notify Dorna of this, they were given an official warning. Ducati were fined €250 for having both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone turn up to the session late. And Suzuki were fined €500 for Aleix Espargaro not attending at all.

Just how seriously this will affect the teams is open to question. With factory budgets in the tens of millions of euros, a fine of few hundred euros will barely register. It will, however, act as a signalling mechanism to other riders, especially younger riders, of the behavior expected of MotoGP stars. We shall have to wait and see how this plays out in the future.

The notification of sanction from Dorna is shown below:


FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel Notification of Sanction: Ducati Team, Repsol Honda Team, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR

Repsol Honda Team, who did not notify Dorna/IRTA of MotoGP Rider Marquez being unavailable to attend the compulsory Autograph Session due to illness. They received Official Warning.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR because their rider Aleix Espargaro did not attend the compulsory Official Autograph Session.They were imposed a fine of 500 Euros.

Ducati Team because their riders Dovizioso and Iannone arrived at the compulsory Autograph Session at 11:45, 15 minutes after the beginning of the session. They were imposed a fine of 250 Euros.

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Iannone Back, Aoyama In At Sepang

After missing the last four races due to injury, Andrea Iannone is to make a return to the Factory Ducati team. Iannone had fractured his T3 vertebra in a practice crash at Misano, and was ruled out of the race. Since then, Iannone has been forced to miss the MotoGP rounds at Aragon, Motegi and Phillip Island. 

At Aragon, Iannone was replaced by official test rider Michele Pirro, but Pirro was unable to race at the overseas circuits as he had important test work to do for Ducati, getting the Desmosedici GP17 ready for Jorge Lorenzo, who will get his first chance to test the bike at Valencia, after the last race of the season. After Casey Stoner turned down the opportunity, Hector Barbera was promoted from the Avintia squad to take over Iannone's bike, while Australian Mike Jones stepped in to replace Barbera at Avintia.

The absence of Iannone generated speculation that the Italian would not return again for Ducati. Iannone's injury is serious enough to require a lengthy rehabilitation, and the Italian is leaving Ducati at the end of 2016 to join Suzuki, forced out to make way for Jorge Lorenzo. There have been credible reports that the relationship between Iannone and Ducati has deteriotated since the Italian was told that Ducati had chosen to keep Andrea Dovizioso over him.

Even before then, there had been problems with Iannone, caused in no small part by Iannone's behavior on track. Ducati did not respond well to Iannone putting an impossible pass on Dovizioso at Argentina, and taking the pair of them out of a certain double podium. There are indications that Ducati is none too pleased with Iannone's work ethic. Media engagements have been missed, and at tests, Iannone is rumored to have done the bare minimum number of laps.

Iannone's return puts at least some of those rumors to bed. The Italian is still not 100% fit, but will at least attempt to ride. The expected poor weather may help Iannone, making it less physically demanding to ride in Malaysia. With two weeks after Sepang until Valencia, he should be in much better shape for the last race of the year.

While Iannone makes his return, Dani Pedrosa will still be absent. The Repsol Honda rider crashed heavily at Motegi, breaking his right collarbone and fibula, and, he revealed in his blog on the Repsol website that he also broke a metatarsal bone in his foot. Pedrosa is recovering well after surgery, and is working towards being fit for Valencia.

With Pedrosa out, HRC test rider Hiroshi Aoyama will once again step in for Pedrosa, just as he had done at Motegi. Nicky Hayden, who had stepped in for Pedrosa at Phillip Island, is otherwise engaged, racing in the last WorldSBK event of the season at Qatar. Whether Hayden will be available to step in for Pedrosa at Valencia, should the Spaniard not be fit in time, is not known at the moment.

Pedrosa's injury raised a few rumors in the MotoGP paddock. The Spaniard reportedly took his injury very hard, unsurprising given both the number of times he has broken his collarbone, and his history with surgery. In 2010, Pedrosa broke the same right collarbone in a crash at Motegi caused by a sticking throttle. That collarbone was fixed with a plate, but that plate ended up causing symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which left him with a lack of feeling and strength in his hand while in a racing crouch. That problem was diagnosed before the race at Estoril in 2011, and at Le Mans, the very next round of MotoGP, Marco Simoncelli knocked Pedrosa off and the Spaniard broke his right collarbone again.

With Pedrosa now recovering well from surgery, his concerns have been lifted, and he is expected to make a return as soon as possible. Pedrosa's worries generated some speculation that he may not have been able to race again. That appears to have triggered some speculation as to who would take over his seat in such an event, with attention turning inevitably to Phillip Island winner Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow had been linked to the Repsol Honda ride earlier in the year, when rumors emerged that Pedrosa could head to Movistar Yamaha to replace Jorge Lorenzo. A fit Pedrosa precludes that, however.

 

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