MotoGP looked in danger of losing a second title contender in as many events when Dani Pedrosa was carried away on a stretcher at the end of Saturday's qualifying session for the British MotoGP.
The Spaniard, who took his and Honda's first victory of the season last time out at Mugello - where world champion Valentino Rossi was eliminated from the title chase with a broken leg - lowsided at the end of the Wellington straight whilst trying to improve on third place, during his last lap.
What should have been a harmless fall then turned nasty when Pedrosa was hit by his bike (see gallery below for further pictures) as he slid across the newly laid Silverstone asphalt and was taken to medical centre for checks.
Those checks fortunately revealed that Pedrosa, who battled injury in both 2008 and 2009, had suffered nothing more than bruising to both his knees and will thus be fit to try and reduce the 25 point deficit to title leader and Silverstone pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo on Sunday.
"I crashed when I was on my last qualifying lap as I braked going into a left hander. I hit some bumps and then the front started to move a lot and then had a little slide. Maybe the bike went over me and at that moment it hurt, but afterwards the pain went away so I'm ok for tomorrow,” said Pedrosa.
“The lap times were getting faster in each session and I think I'm still learning the track - every time you go out you learn more about the line, the braking points and the corners where the bumps are - and that's normal on a new track. We're on the front row which is always important for a good getaway, so tomorrow I hope we can have another good performance.”
LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet will start between the two title rivals, while Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will head row two.
“I'm happy with qualifying in fourth place and starting from the front of the second row,” said the Italian. “I wanted to be a little bit closer in terms of lap times and we still need to improve the pace for tomorrow so that we can fight for first place, but I'm satisfied with the result today.
“This morning I crashed, fortunately without hurting myself, and I was able to get straight back on my second bike and be back on the pace immediately. Because of this crash we couldn't do so much comparison work between the two chassis we had available, and so during qualifying I only used the new one, which seems to work well.
“The track layout is really fascinating - I like it a lot - but the main issue remains the bumps. We're quietly confident for tomorrow and I'm definitely looking for another podium finish - at least.”