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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Comments

That broken metatarsal would be one painful (and debilitating) injury for a MotoGP rider. No wonder he's not coming back yet.

It seems that Iannone is still in a lot of pain and I can believe that, given the nature of the injury. I guess that at that level of competition the most effective painkiller is sheer motivation and I don't think that AI has any reason whatsoever to be overly motivated. He won a race so is forever in the heart of Ducati fans and books and I assume he feels he was dumped: he's not gonna make the extra effort for the people who sacked him. Plus he needs to be fit for the Valencia test . In this respect I see a similarity with JL performance of late: he clearly lost confidence on the front tyre and cannot afford an injury that might prevent him to test in Valencia his future Ducati. And who could blame him? My guess is that if he can fight he'll do it but I don't think he'll put the extra effort and take chances. On a side note I still think that Ducati should have taken Marquez. Or stick with the 2 Andreas and then bring in a young talent from the lower classes. They did try but I don't know why the negotiation failed....: maybe you have infos about it David?
As for Dani....has he ever had a season without injuries? I cannot even fathom the strength and willpower it takes to overcome again and again all those broken bones. So much talent so little luck. Or better none! Whatever he decides to do he deserves all the respect from us.
On a side note: where was Stoner? Why wasn't he in PI ? I can understand why he did not take Iannone place but as a Ducati ambassador to not show up in his garden..... I'm puzzled

"Where was Stoner? Why wasn't he in PI ?" What is a MotoGp test riders job description? If any of the other test riders who work for any of the other teams, declined to stand in then, would they get sacked? I said this before, surely a part of a test riders job is to race when a team rider is injured. If all the teams had high profile ex-MotoGp Champions, ambassadors or riders who refused then this would cause a problem if there were several riders out of commission. As i also said before this is not a personal attack on Casey, just an unusual situation which has cropped up.

 

 

I'm not at all privvy to contract details, but I would imagine that Mr Stoner was able to negotiage a slightly different employment agreement as opposed to a 'regular' test rider. Being a 2 time World Champ and at least as fast as any rider on the grid would carry some bargaining power. Stoner himself is also somewhat 'unusual' as a rider goes. Not many riders truly go out on top when they could arguablly have accumulated several more world championships,

As a fan i am dissapointed that i didnt get to see him race again, but as a silver lining it gave the opportunity for another young keen rider to show his stuff on the world stage, and Mike Jones did exceptionally well (fastest lap of any GP14.2 during the race)