Dani Pedrosa's painful start to the 2009 MotoGP season will continue at Motegi this weekend, but the Spaniard will at least have ten degrees more knee movement for Honda's home race.
“I'm looking forward to this weekend in Japan,” said Dani. “My leg is improving all the time and the knee is gaining a little bit more mobility every day. I don't have the full range of movement yet, but I think that by the time we get to Motegi I'll have about ten degrees more of movement than in Qatar, which should make quite a big difference.”
Pedrosa made an early return from left knee and forearm surgery for the Qatar season opener when, despite not riding for five weeks and being only '60-70 percent' fit, the former title runner-up fought his way from 14th on the grid to sixth by lap eight of 22.
However, like Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, Pedrosa then found his factory RC212V began losing pace - and his hopes of a strong finish effectively ended when Alex de Angelis slammed into him during a clumsy pass soon afterwards.
“My elbow is also getting better after the hit de Angelis gave me in Qatar - there's still some pain and stiffness but I hope it won't be a problem in Japan,” said Pedrosa, who reached the Losail chequered flag in eleventh.
“My priority is still to reach full fitness so that I can ride at 100 per cent, and then we must focus on the machine because I missed out on quite a lot of winter testing and we're still not at the level we'd like to be.
“It's a case of taking things one step at time - first to get full fitness and then improve the bike step by step. Motegi is a track I like though, and I've won races there in the past so I'm looking forward to getting the best result possible at Honda's home track,” he concluded.
Pedrosa finished third in last September's Japanese Grand Prix, marking his first podium finish on Bridgestone tyres.
This year's event will have extra significance for all the Honda riders, since 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of Honda's first entry into the Motorcycle World Championship.
It was in 1959 that company founder Soichiro Honda fulfilled his ambition of taking part in the Isle of Man TT races.