The incident between Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli has had much bigger consequences than anyone believed it would. Pedrosa broke his right collarbone in the crash, just weeks after having a plate removed from his left, due to the plate causing the Repsol Honda rider to suffer Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Since then, Pedrosa's return has been much longer in coming than expected, his injury shrouded in mystery, with rumors that Pedrosa had aggravated his injury in a training accident emerging in the Spanish press.
After further surgery to fix a loose bone fragment in Pedrosa's collarbone, in his blog on the Repsol website, Pedrosa said his objective was to return to racing at Mugello, and that he would see what would happen at Assen. However, Pedrosa's participation in the Dutch TT at Assen is now looking increasingly unlikely, with all of the signs pointing to Pedrosa deciding to skip Assen and return to action at Mugello.
The first hint that Pedrosa would miss Assen came in the Repsol Honda press release previewing the Dutch Grand Prix. In it, Pedrosa said "To be honest it will be very difficult for me to make it to Assen, but I really believe I will be OK for Mugello, so now I'm focused on working to get better every day and see how far I get." The key for Pedrosa, he said, was to return as soon as possible, "but I want to do the right thing". The team press release also stated that San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama would be drafted in to race Pedrosa's bike if the Spaniard did not race.
In the Gresini press release, Aoyama was even more explicit about which bike he will be riding at Assen: "I will most probably be contesting the Dutch TT at Assen on board a factory RC212V as part of the Repsol Honda Team," Aoyama was quoted as saying, with team boss Fausto Gresini hailing Aoyama's imminent promotion as a sign of the close cooperation between the Gresini squad and HRC.
The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of the announcement a revised version of the schedule for the race at Assen. When the first version was announced last week, Dani Pedrosa was listed as being at the traditional pre-event press conference. However, the revised version, sent out this morning, saw Pedrosa being replaced by Hiroshi Aoyama in the press conference. If Aoyama does not take Pedrosa's place at Assen, that will be a very awkward conference indeed.
Deciding to skip Assen is the most sensible course of action for Pedrosa. The Spaniard has had nearly nine months of misery with his collarbones, starting with an accident at Motegi caused by a stuck throttle, followed by a bout of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome caused by the plate fitted to correct that fracture, then sheer relief at that problem - which Pedrosa believed could have been career ending - being solved by the plate being removed, only to break his other collarbone in a collision with Marco Simoncelli which Pedrosa believes was entirely Simoncelli's fault. Pedrosa would prefer to come back to racing again only when he is at 100% fitness, without risking any further injury. With the first two days of practice at Assen expected to be at least partially wet, the risk of crashing is greatly increased, and so skipping the race and giving himself one more week to recover gives Pedrosa his best chance of being competitive.
An official statement on Pedrosa's participation in the Assen round of MotoGP will only probably be made on Wednesday, as Spanish journalist Nadia Tronchoni reported on Twitter. But realistically, that official statement is likely to have only one conclusion: that Dani Pedrosa will not be at Assen.