Dani Pedrosa cagey on first race fitness battle

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Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa has refused to give a clear indication of whether he will be fit to compete in the first MotoGP race of 2009 in Qatar next month.

The Spaniard was discharged from a Barcelona hospital yesterday (Saturday) after undergoing surgery to correct left arm and knee injuries he suffered during a crash at last week’s night test session in Qatar. 

Pedrosa broke his left arm in the high-side on the second night and he needed a titanium screw inserted to stabilise the injury. During a three-hour operation, he also underwent a skin graft on his left knee.

Pedrosa, who finished third behind Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner in last year’s MotoGP world championship, is almost certain to miss the final winter test session in Jerez on March 28/29 having been told by doctors he can’t bend his knee for a minimum of four weeks.

His participation in the opening race in Qatar on April 12 remains in serious doubt, though Pedrosa was cautious on his prospects of being fit for the floodlit night race.

Pedrosa said: “I feel quite a lot better. When I arrived the truth is that the knee did not look very good, but the operation went well and I am pleased. This morning Dr. Ferreira made his final check and I saw how good the knee was looking. Now I have to rest a little as it is very important to give the body a break for the first few days, let things take their course, then I will start my recovery plan.

“I imagine that at the beginning it will be tough trying to give the skin and knee some elasticity. Referring to my arm, this will not be so complicated, as it will not be immobilised for so long. We are planning to work hard and so be ready for the first race in Qatar, but when the day arrives we will have to see whether I am really in perfect shape to get on the bike.

“The objective is to try and be fit for the first race. You do not choose to be in a situation like this, but we have no other choice than to face up to things and to carry on. I have fallen many times and I have always fought back and I will do it again. We will get back to riding fast on the bike, but it is true that I am having some problems this pre-season, but there is nothing we can do about that, we just have to keep going.”

Dr. Xavier Mir said Pedrosa’s double operation had been a success and he didn’t rule out the triple world champion being fit for the opening race.

But while saying he would do everything in his power to help Pedrosa partner new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso in Qatar, he too refused to give any concrete assurances that he will have recovered sufficiently to ride Honda’s new factory RC212V.

“The work that we did on Dani Pedrosa´s knee allowed us to make it look a lot better, and so now it is looking very good, and Dr. Ferreira who carried out the operation, has allowed him to begin putting his foot on the floor as there were some doubts about whether he could walk with crutches. Turning to the recovery times, we are optimistic, although we cannot commit ourselves to being ready for the first race. We will take all the relevant steps to speed his recovery, and even though we cannot say whether he will be ready for the first race we do not rule anything out. The knee injury is more complicated but it is looking very good, so we are optimistic. We know that in many cases the recovery times for professional sportsmen are usually shorter, and keeping this in mind Dani´s prognosis is very good, “said Dr Mir.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt