Dani Pedrosa is to return to racing at the Le Mans round of MotoGP. His return brings to an end an extended absence following surgery to cure a persistent arm pump problem. Pedrosa missed three rounds in total, skipping Austin and Argentina, then making a last-minute decision to withdraw from the Jerez round.
That decision was regarded with some suspicion. Jerez is a track where Pedrosa has performed very strongly in the past, and missing a home GP is a major wrench of any MotoGP rider. However, after testing his forearm by riding a supermoto bike, Pedrosa was concerned that his arms were not recovering as hoped. Now, with two weeks more rest, Pedrosa believes his arms will be strong enough to withstand the stresses of racing a MotoGP bike.
There is a small irony in Pedrosa returning to action at Le Mans. The French circuit marked the beginning of one of the Spaniard's darkest periods in racing. Pedrosa fractured his right collarbone when he was knocked off his Repsol Honda by a hard-charging Marco Simoncelli. The subsequent surgery to plate the collarbone left Pedrosa suffering Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which caused numbness and weakness in his right hand, and made it very difficult for him to race. That problem was only solved by new surgery, which involved removing the screws from his plated collarbone, one of which was believed to be creating the TOS issue by temporarily blocking an artery when Pedrosa was held in a racing crouch. Before the issue was resolved, Pedrosa was giving serious consideration to retiring permanently from racing. The whole episode has left Pedrosa with a deep-seated aversion of surgery. It has also left him determined only to return to racing when he can do so at full fitness, and not before.
Pedrosa's return will bring to an end an uncomfortable period for HRC. Honda bosses had faced a barrage of questioning over both Pedrosa's extended absence and their decision to field Hiroshi Aoyama as Pedrosa's replacement, despite an offer to ride from Casey Stoner. Livio Suppo and Shuhei Nakamoto did their best to quash the gossip in a fractious press conference at Jerez, but question marks remained. The Repsol Honda team will now hope to turn its attention to racing.
The press release issued by the Repsol Media Service, covering its riders in both MotoGP and Moto3, appears below:
France welcomes Repsol riders on Pedrosa’s return to action
- Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to compete at Le Mans this weekend, where they have won for the past two seasons. In Moto3, Fabio Quartararo competes in home race, alongside Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera.
- Marc Marquez has reached 40 races in MotoGP, in which he has taken 20 wins, a further 12 podiums, 24 pole positions and 2 titles.
- Marquez won last year at Le Mans and has been on pole the past three seasons (2 in MotoGP and 1 in Moto2) also taking his first career pole there at the 2009 125cc race.
- Dani Pedrosa has 4 victories at Le Mans (1 in MotoGP in 2013, 2 in 250cc in 2004 and 2005 and 1 in 125cc in 2003) plus 6 poles (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012).
The legendary Le Mans circuit hosts the fifth MotoGP round of the season this weekend. It will be a special event for the Repsol riders, as Marc Marquez will be further recovered from his finger injury for a race that he won last season. He will be accompanied by teammate Dani Pedrosa, who returns from forearm surgery. In Moto3, Fabio Quartararo will contest his first home GP.
The Bugatti circuit at Le Mans is a track at which Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa have shone in recent years. They were winners in 2014 and 2013, respectively, and both have a host of wins, podiums and poles from previous seasons. In Moto3, Quartararo, Navarro and Herrera rode there for the first time last season in the FIM CEV Repsol, with Quartararo winning that event.
"Since Jerez we’ve been able to rest and now I’m feeling much stronger for this weekend. I visited Dr. Mir for a check up and my finger is definitely improving and healing well. I haven’t trained much this past week in order to give my finger a chance to restore back to 100%, which was our main goal. I like the Le Mans track, the weather is always changeable but last year it was really good and I took my first win in the MotoGP class, so let’s hope it’s the nice for us again this year!"
“I’ve been doing a lot of therapy in the past few weeks since the operation and I am improving step by step. I’m beginning to feel stronger and looking forward to getting back on the bike –after all, this is the best way to check the feeling after all the rehabilitation work. It will be good to get back to my team and catch up with them all after this time and of course to see all the fans in Le Mans, so let’s hope the weather is kind to us again like in 2014!”
"This is my home Grand Prix; although I live in Spain and it’s like a second home, it’s very special to ride in France and I will try to do the best I can. I know the track a little, although I’ve only ridden there once. It’s a ‘stop and go’ circuit with hard braking. We have been competitive at the first four races, so I am confident that we can go fast there as well –especially after the good work we did last week in testing."
"Le Mans is a track we rode at in the FIM CEV Repsol last year and it went well for us, but things change a lot in the World Championship. We will have to be focused and work well from the start. The test we did last Tuesday allowed us to take a step forward, so we will arrive there more confident and I hope that we continue improving at this race. We worked a lot on the setup and I was able to ride fast, so we will try to be up there with the lead group again and progress further."
"I know the track fairly well because of the race last year. Arriving there with references is positive. I was fast, but we can’t let up and will have to push from the first session, because this is the World Championship. In France you don’t know if it will rain or not, but our work so far this season and at the test last Tuesday mean that I believe we will be ok. I have spent a few days at home and my foot is better, so we will push hard to have a good weekend."