Jorge Lorenzo has had successful surgery to fix his fractured scaphoid, but the surgery means he will miss the Sepang test. The Spaniard had a titanium screw inserted to hold the broken scaphoid together, but the recovery period needed means he will not be fully fit in time for the start of the Sepang test, and Repsol Honda and Lorenzo have decided to skip Sepang and focus on the Qatar test at the end of February.
Despite the surgery, Lorenzo will be present at the launch of the Repsol Honda team in Madrid, to be held on Wednesday, 23rd January.
Lorenzo's accident puts Honda in a difficult situation for Sepang. Marc Marquez is still recovering from major surgery on his left shoulder, to fix a chronic problem of dislocation. Though Marquez' recovery continues apace, he is far from full fitness, and has not been able to train the way he normally would. Cal Crutchlow is still recovering from a massive ankle injury which he suffered at the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island last year. Though he is cycling, he still has some pain while walking, and so his condition is far from 100% for the test.
With Lorenzo out, Marquez far from fit, and Crutchlow questionable, HRC will have limited testing resources to rely on. Stefan Bradl will be present as HRC official tester, and Honda could elect to use one of their Japanese test riders. Whether they will hand some of the work to Crutchlow's LCR Honda teammate Takaaki Nakagami remains to be seen: unlike Crutchlow, Nakagami is contracted to LCR rather than HRC. However, Nakagami did finish the Jerez test as the fastest rider.
If there is one saving grace for Honda, it is that much of the engine development work has already been done for 2019. A new engine spec was tested at both Valencia and Jerez, together with a different air intake system, aimed at boosting power. Jerez and Valencia are tracks which show up the deficiencies of engines, and so the focus for HRC has switched to the chassis, and especially the front end of the bike. This is where Marquez will struggle to do much work if he still has pain in his shoulder, though Crutchlow may fare better with a painful ankle.
No doubt we will learn more at the Repsol Honda team presentation in Madrid on Wednesday. The press release on Lorenzo's surgery appears below:
Lorenzo completes operation on scaphoid
Jorge Lorenzo sustained a broken left scaphoid while training, the Majorcan then undergoing successful surgery to repair the break.
While continuing his preparations for the 2019 MotoGP™ World Championship, Jorge Lorenzo suffered a fall while riding just outside of Verona, Italy. After multiple checks, it was unfortunately confirmed that the five-time world champion had sustained a broken scaphoid.
Lorenzo elected to have surgery on the injury, a titanium screw inserted via a minimally invasive technique. He will remain in hospital for 24 hours for further observation. Four days rest will give the injury sufficient time to heal from the operation and physiotherapy can then begin.
Due to the nature of the injury, Jorge Lorenzo and the Repsol Honda Team have elected for Lorenzo to miss the Sepang Test to focus fully on his recovery. His aim is to return fully fit for the Qatar Test, February 23 to 25. He now heads to Madrid for the 25th Anniversary Repsol Honda Team launch on January 23 alongside Marc Márquez. The event will be streamed live here.