For the first time since 2007, Dani Pedrosa will start a MotoGP season fit and healthily - but might still be in a worse position, performance-wise, then when he was riding injured.
Pedrosa, a best-yet second in the 2007 MotoGP World Championship, broke his hand in a fiery fall while preparing for the 2008 season, then suffered knee and forearm injuries just before the start of 2009.
2010 has thankfully been surgery-free, but the Spaniard - Honda's top rider of the 800cc era with six race wins (plus two more in 990cc) - has only been the fastest RCV rider on one day out of the six pre-season testing opportunities.
Perhaps Pedrosa is paying the price for not joining team-mate Andrea Dovizioso in making an early switch to Ohlins suspension late last season, or perhaps he's simply been understandably cautious in testing after his recent experiences.
But there seems little doubt that the #26 has fundamental handling problems with his new bike, which left him only 13th fastest and over 1.5sec off the pace at the end of the Qatar night test - the final opportunity for track time before the season begins back at Losail on April 9-11.
“We started to make improvements early in tonight's session, but after that we couldn't make any more progress really and so of course I'm not satisfied with the results of this test,” said Pedrosa.
“It's obvious that we're not where we want to be as we approach the first race, so we'll just have do our best when we come back here and try to make the improvements quickly in the practice sessions. That's it really.
“I'm still struggling with the bike moving quite a lot at the front and that's caused by issues at rear. Because of this I'm also going too slowly through the corners.
“We have to stay positive and be glad that I'm going into this season fully fit, and we'll keep working to improve things,” he concluded.
An injured Pedrosa finished a remarkable third at Qatar 2008 and then eleventh in the delayed 2009 night race. Dani went on to finish third overall in both seasons.
Dovizioso finished a promising third at the Qatar test, just over half a second from Casey Stoner, while LCR's Randy de Puniet - who has the most Ohlins/RCV experience of any rider - was also comfortably faster than Pedrosa in joint seventh on the overall times.