MOTEGI, JAPAN, OCT 1 - Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo is certain to win the 2010 MotoGP World Championship after title rival Dani Pedrosa suffered a triple fracture of his left collarbone early in the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.The Spaniard had completed one full lap when he crashed midway through his second flying lap. According to the Repsol Honda press release, the crash was caused "when a small problem with the throttle cable didn’t allow Pedrosa to close the throttle when he came to brake, an issue which has already been investigated and resolved." In addition to the broken collarbone, he took a pounding on his left ankle, but it wasn't broken."Obviously this has been a really bad day for us," Pedrosa said. "It was a strange crash in only my second full lap, in a slow section of the track. I tried to stop the bike as usual, but I knew something was wrong and couldn't avoid going down. After the crash I knew immediately that I was injured because it was very painful. I had a big impact in my left ankle and also my collarbone was broken as I hit the track - so obviously it feels very unlucky because recently we have had really good results. I've been very healthy through the pre-season and through the year and we had been working a lot to get to and stay at the maximum level. Another injury to contend with is really not what I needed - I don't feel as though I deserve it. Anyway, once the doctors had checked everything here, we decided it was best to go back to Spain for the operation. I hope it goes as well as possible and that I can return to racing soon."

The crash came in the Turn 9 "V-Corner," a left-hander taken in first gear at around 50 mph. It's the same corner where Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner crashed his Honda RC212V in the 2006 race."In 2006 I crashed in this exact point where he did, but I didn’t have any wobbles," Stoner said. "As soon as I went on the brakes, the front just washed away from an upright position and, bam, I went down, and there was no explanation for it."I mean, there’s a few bumps there, but nothing that’s really going to do that. It wasn’t the bump. It was the strange thing, how quickly the bike went down. He had no chance to counteract or get off it or anything. So when he went down so quickly is when he broke his collarbone. It was exactly what happened to me. Looking at it, maybe his was a little faster, but as soon as I went on the brakes in the race, bam."Pedrosa was taken to the infield medical care center where it was determined that he would need surgery. He is scheduled to fly back to Spain in the morning, which means he'll almost certainly miss next weekend's race in Malaysia. Depending on the outcome of the surgery, he may return for Phillip Island in two week's time.If Pedrosa is ruled out of the next race in Malaysia, Lorenzo, who has a 56 point lead, would only need a 75 point cushion to clinch the title. A second place or better here would seal the championship, even if he failed to score points in Sepang. Stoner currently sits 129 points behind Lorenzo.The crash comes as Pedrosa was making inroads and Lorenzo was off his best form. Pedrosa had won in Indianapolis and Misano, and had finished second to Stoner in the previous race in Aragon. Lorenzo was third, second, and fourth in Aragon, his first non-podium finish this season. Over the course of those three races, Pedrosa had taken 21 points out of Lorenzo's lead, dropping it from 77 to 56, as the Honda RC212V was emerging as the equal of the Yamaha YZR-M1. With Pedrosa out, the pressure on Lorenzo to win is greatly reduced."Well, obviously the best way to win the world title is with all the riders at the best conditions and all the riders competing, but you know, races are like that and everybody gets injured sometimes in racing," Lorenzo said. "I get injured in 2008 and Vale this year and now…bad luck is time for Dani. Is not a good news for the championship, but obviously for us, for the championship, for the points, it’s good, no?"Asked whether he would change his approach, Lorenzo said, "Being honest, I was quite happy and I was happy with the result in Aragon. Because I race quite aggressive and the best way I could ride. But there we have so many problems and the only position we can get was fourth. So I don’t race with a calculator or something like that. I race more or less always at the limit and now I will race the same"

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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.

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