Honda's pre-season preparations for the 2008 MotoGP world championship have been dealt a big blow after it was confirmed that Spaniard Dani Pedrosa suffered a broken right hand in the second of two crashes as winter testing resumed in Malaysia today.
The Spaniard is expected to fly back to Europe tonight from Kuala Lumpur after he suffered the injury in a crash that saw his new 2008 factory Honda RC212V destroyed in a spectacular fireball.
Honda has refused to speculate on how long Pedrosa's injury will keep him sidelined, but it seems certain that he will also be ruled out of next week's three-day session at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia.
Regardless, Pedrosa's absence from at least five days of winter testing is a blow to Honda and Michelin, who were looking to the triple world champion to help lead development ahead of the new season.
Pedrosa crashed at the double right-hander after the tight left hand hairpin on the opening afternoon, having escaped injury in a small crash at the first corner this morning.
His Repsol Honda immediately exploded into a huge fireball, almost injuring several marshals attending the incident.
Pedrosa was rushed back to the pits where he walked unaided back into the pits, but then lay on the garage floor before his mechanics ordered for a member of the Clinica Mobile team to be called.
A fracture in his right hand was initially diagnosed, and early reports suggested that Pedrosa would be able to continue riding, before it was confirmed by HRC that the injury would rule him out of the final two days.
Pedrosa was second fastest on the opening day of 2008 track action, posting a best time of 2.01.864. Top of the timesheets in dominant fashion was Frenchman Randy de Puniet, who clocked an impressive 2.01.377 lap to finish nearly 0.5s clear of the field.
The opening day of testing was a crash-strewn affair, with Fiat Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo crashing. James Toseland's Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards also crashed.