By Stephen English
In the space of three races, Dani Pedrosa
has gone from MotoGP title favourite to a rider under pressure due to injuries.
When reigning champion and nearest rival Jorge Lorenzo
broke his collarbone at Assen, Pedrosa looked perfectly placed to build a big points lead. But Lorenzo returned for fifth in the race, with both riders then injured at the Sachsenring.
The German fall also cost Pedrosa the title lead to rookie Repsol Honda team-mate Marc Marquez, who then pushed home his advantage with a further victory in Sunday's US round.
Pedrosa, riding with a partially fractured collarbone, rode to fifth and now trails Marquez by 16 points in the standings. Lorenzo, sixth in the US, is a further ten points behind.
When asked to assess his performance at Laguna Seca, Pedrosa explained how difficult it is to ride a MotoGP bike when not 100% fit.
"You can see that these bikes are so powerful and difficult to ride when you are not fully fit," said Pedrosa. "Jorge did a perfect race in Assen and here also, given his condition, he showed that he is very brave, but to hold on to the pace you have to be fit."
Reflecting on the championship situation, as the 2013 season reaches its halfway mark, Pedrosa admitted:
"I lost a big amount of points in the last three races and I know that I have not had good results because at Assen I had a problem, Germany I didn't race and here I was injured. I know if I can do a normal race that I will be [at the front].
“The most important thing for me is to get fit and stay focused, you can see how a small mistake can lead to this.”
Fortunately for Pedrosa and Lorenzo, they now have a near four-week break in which to recover before the Indianapolis round in mid-August, which marks the start of three consecutive events.
"I will try and recover as fast as I can to be fit for the next three races. There are three races in a row and the important thing is not to make a mistake in the first or second race and have to take it to the next one."