Dani Pedrosa’s slim chances of winning the 2010 MotoGP world championship all but disappeared this afternoon in Japan when the Repsol Honda rider broke his left collarbone in a practice crash.
The Spaniard was on only his third lap when he crashed heavily with just over five minutes of the opening practice session elapsed.
The triple world champion first appeared to have suffered little damage in the high-speed spill, but as he attempted to walk away, it was clear he was in considerable pain.
Initially it looked like he’d suffered damage to his left leg, which appeared to have got trapped under his factory Honda RC212V as he slid through the gravel trap.
He needed to be taken to a trackside ambulance by stretcher but after lengthy checks in the Twin Ring Motegi medical centre he was diagnosed with a three-fragment fracture in his left collarbone.
Pedrosa was the only rider other than compatriot Jorge Lorenzo who could have won the 2010 MotoGP crown. Pedrosa’s enforced lay-off could now see Lorenzo crowned world champion next weekend at the Sepang race in Malaysia.
A run of four successive podium finishes, that included back-to-back wins in Indianapolis and Misano, had seen Pedrosa slash Fiat Yamaha rival Lorenzo’s points advantage to 56-points with five races remaining.
He had been enjoying his best season in MotoGP having won four times and at the last round at the new Motorland Aragon track in Spain he signed a new two-year deal with HRC.
Pedrosa is the second of Lorenzo’s main title rivals to have an injury hinder his title challenge.
With 125 points available from the last five races, and Stoner 129 points behind, Lorenzo will be crowned the 2010 MotoGP world champion. As long as Pedrosa doesn't make a recovery.