Honda's most successful rider of the 800cc MotoGP era, Dani Pedrosa, arrived at the Losail circuit on Friday to take part in this evening's first practice session for the opening race of the 2009 MotoGP season.
The 24-year-old Spaniard has spent the last five weeks recovering from surgery to insert a screw into his left wrist and a skin graft on his left knee, after falling at the same Qatar circuit during testing on March 2.
Pedrosa's presence this weekend was in serious doubt, and the former 125 and double 250cc world champion admits he is at 60-70% fitness, with only limited movement in his knee.
Dani, who missed the recent Jerez test, also has concerns about his RC212V, but will do his best this weekend.
“Finally I'm here in Qatar to try to race this weekend and I'm happy for that," said Pedrosa. "It's not been easy to get here because I didn't have much time to recover and I'm not at 100 per cent yet - we can say that I'm at about 60 or 70 percent. There are some injuries where you can push hard to recover faster, but this injury was not of this type and I really couldn't push the recovery – I had to take some time.
“I've not been able to fully bend my knee since I crashed in Australia in October and after two operations since then there is still some way to go before I'm completely fit again. Right now I still cannot fully bend my knee and I can't squat down completely, which is usually what you need to race the bike, so I can't tell exactly how it's going to go until the first practice session tonight.
“I'm also concerned about the machine. We still have to make quite a lot of progress and we will need some time to get to the same level as our rivals. Still, we are where we are and we have to give our maximum to overcome the issues.
“I want to say thanks to all the fans who have sent me letters and emails showing their support and pushing me to recover. When you're in this situation, this kind of support really helps you a lot. Also I want say thanks to my team for all the dedication they've shown to get to the best possible position since I've been away.
“After last year, they already know how to work in this kind of situation and I have full confidence in them.”
Pedrosa also began the 2008 season injured, to a lesser extent, but was able to finish third at Qatar.