Pedrosa Suffers Setback, Needs Surgery

Henny Ray Abrams | March 31, 2011

The championship hopes of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa were dealt a blow when doctors discovered complications in his recovery from last October’s surgery to correct a broken collarbone.Pedrosa suffered a double fracture of his left collarbone when the throttle of his Honda RC212V stuck open during practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. Pedrosa missed the race in Japan as well as the following week’s race in Malaysia. He returned the next week at Phillip Island, but was damaged goods. The Spaniard rode both practice sessions and qualifying, but it was a painful ordeal. He qualified 3.277 secs. off Casey Stoner’s pole time and withdrew from the race.He’d arrived in Japan with only the slimmest of championship hopes; his gap to Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was 56 points, 284 to 228. By sitting out Japan and not traveling to Malaysia, he allowed Lorenzo to clinch the title at the Sepang Circuit.Pedrosa had gotten through the 2011 pre-season without any physical dramas, nor did he show any outwards signs of injury during practice and qualifying for the Qatar season-opener, though privately he was concerned. Then, late in the Qatar race, he slowed dramatically as he began to lose feeling in his left arm.”I was going well, but, yeah, already in practice I felt something, but I wasn’t sure it could go worse,” he said after finishing third to teammate Casey Stoner and Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. “But at the end I couldn’t grab the grip. I was just holding on somehow. I wasn’t using the clutch. I couldn’t use the clutch any more. I don’t know. I had some problem.” He added that he was having the problems in the final two races of last season, but he “thought it was gone, but it’s not finished. I don’t know what I will do or what can I do, but it’s like this, so I don’t know.”He continued. “In November I was resting and we did some exams; everything was right. And in the testing, yeah, it was OK, a little bit weak, but OK. But in the long distance I have some problem and finally I couldn’t use the arm. So it’s a shame because the bike was perfect. It was fast, it was going very well in the corners also. And for the very first time at this track I was quite quick I could fight for the top. Finally I just tried to bring the bike home and I had a hard time there in the last laps trying to hold the bike.”Pedrosa said that he hadn’t made the “full distance in pre-season.” In Qatar, he started to do some runs of 10 or 11 laps and then he started to feel something, but he wasn’t sure if it was the “wind or I was too stiff on the bike or something, sometimes. But finally, yeah, it’s very strange. It’s when I’m riding on the right corners I cannot feel the fingers and it’s very..I don’t know, I have to check if there is something in the neck, perhaps, or somewhere.”After undergoing extensive testing with a vascular surgeon, Pedrosa was diagnosed with intermittent compression of the subclavian artery, which causes numbness and lack of strength. That the diagnosis came five months after the accident doesn’t say much about the initial medical care he received. The surgery, which involves removing the titanium plate and screws in order to release the compression fracture, will be done after this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.With the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix from mid-April to early October, Pedrosa now has three weekends to recover before the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estroil on May 1.Since he won’t be at full strength this weekend, nor will he be fully fit in Estoril, Pedrosa faces an uphill battle to keep up with his teammate Casey Stoner, as well as world champion Jorge Lorenzo, the two riders who have emerged as the strongest title contenders.Though surgery at any time is rarely an indication of progress, the timing in Pedrosa’s case couldn’t have been worse. Jerez is Pedrosa’s best race track, with a win and four seconds in his MotoGP career.”It’s never nice to have an operation, but we’ve had a lot of time searching for an answer to the effects of this injury and I’m relaxed because I finally know what has happened,” Pedrosa said. “Now, we are in Jerez and I want to concentrate on the race, working with my team in the best possible way to prepare (for) the grand prix. This race is special, the crowd is always there to give you an extra point and I hope it helps me, as always. I like the track, I’ve had always good results here and I face the weekend with an open mind, trying to do my best in my current condition.”This isn’t the first time injuries have damaged his championship hopes. In 2008, Pedrosa threw away a four point lead, and ultimately the championship, by crashing while streaming away in the wet conditions of the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring. Pedrosa had a 7.5 secs. lead when he crashed starting the sixth lap after touching the painted white line while braking for the first turn. The bike cartwheeled spectacularly and Pedrosa was tossed like a rag doll through the wet gravel trap. He was forced to miss the following Red Bull U.S.GP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and was ineffective in the Czech Grand Prix. He would end up finishing a distant third in the championship.


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.