Dani Pedrosa was left to contemplate what might have been as a numb left arm cost him the chance to fight Repsol Honda team-mate Casey Stoner for the win in Qatar last night.
Pedrosa faded suddenly out of victory contention when he started to have a loss of feeling in his left arm and fingers in the latter stages of the 22-lap race.
The issue is a problem that started after his practice crash during the Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi last October.
The Spaniard had hoped the suspected nerve damage in his neck had healed and he will fly back to Barcelona for further checks this week.
He eventually finished third having failed to fend off reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo and he said: “First we have to find what's going on, but we thought everything was fine. In November I was resting and we did some examinations.
Everything was right and in testing, the shoulder felt a little bit weak but no big problem. I didn't make the full race distance in pre-season. In Qatar I started to do ten and eleven laps together and then I started to feel something, but I wasn't sure if it was the wind or I was too stiff on the bike.
"But it is very strange and over the long distance in the race I had some problems and at the end I couldn't use the arm. It's a shame because the bike was perfect.
"For the very first time at this track I was quite quick and I could fight for the win. But in the end I just had to try and bring the bike home and I had a hard time in the final few laps.”
For the thoughts of Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo on the first race in Qatar, see this week’s MCN (March 23).