The testing ban may provide some rest and relief for the MotoGP riders, but the period traditionally starts with a general crowding of operating theaters around the globe. This year was no different, and it was the turn of Toni Elias, Sete Gibernau and John Hopkins to put themselves under the knife once testing finished.
Elias was up first, and had a screw removed from his leg, which was put in to help heal the painful spiral fracture he suffered after a vicious crash at Assen's Ramshoek corner in 2007. Surgeons in Barcelona encountered no problems taking the screw out, and Elias is already working on his physical rehabilitation program.
Sete Gibernau was up next, at the same Dexeus medical center in Barcelona, this time to have a plate removed from his collar bone. The plate was put in during Gibernau's 2006 season, replacing an earlier plate which had been bent during the horrific first-corner crash at Barcelona that year. At first, it seemed that that crash had ended Gibernau's career, but a divorce during 2007 breathed new life in to the Spaniard's will to race. According to Gibernau's doctors, the collarbone is now strong enough to manage without the plate.
The final patient was Kawasaki's John Hopkins, who had all of the metalwork removed from his left ankle, which had been put in place after a crash at Assen, in the same corner that had broken Elias' leg a year earlier. Hopkins was particularly pleased to have the plates removed, as the plates had been rubbing on his tendons when he changed gear, causing his ankle and leg to swell up, as well as causing a great deal of pain. While they were there, the surgeons at Dr Ting's clinic in California also cleaned up Hopkins' knee, injured in the same crash.
All three men should be fit and ready to return to testing at the end of January in Phillip Island in Hopkins' case, and at Sepang in early February in the case of Toni Elias and Sete Gibernau.