Dani Pedrosa made an 'awkward' return from knee and forearm surgery during the opening day of the 2009 racing season, on Friday night in Qatar.
The Repsol Honda star, injured at the same circuit during last month's test, was unsurprisingly left at the tail of the timesheets - some 4.382sec from Casey Stoner - but was satisfied to have completed 17 laps, including a run of eight consecutive 'fast' laps.
“Well, I was able to ride for the whole session tonight and that was the first target for Qatar,” said Honda's only 800cc race winner. “I didn't feel so great on the bike to be honest, but I expected this after such a long time without riding. I have to readapt to the speed, the braking points, the demands of riding a MotoGP machine again and this will take some time.
“My knee of course did not feel one hundred per cent and we will have to see how it improves over the course of the next practice sessions. Because I can't bend the knee as far as I'd like, my riding position is not normal and this means I feel quite awkward on the bike at the moment.
“It's too early for me to really make a judgment on the level of the bike because my pace was not fast enough today to really work on machine set-up. We knew this was going to be a challenging session and we were prepared for this, so we'll come back tomorrow and aim to take some more steps forward,” he concluded.
“We welcomed Dani back and he was able to ride for the whole session, which I'm really pleased about,” stated team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. "Of course he was very cautious and familiarising himself with being back on the bike, and also he was assessing his own physical condition. For this reason it wasn't a typical session for him, it was more like a shake-down test. Tomorrow he will try to take further steps and improve things further.”
Pedrosa's new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was eighth fastest.