Dani Pedrosa's Austrian MotoGP weekend began with last place after a scary fifth gear fall in morning practice.

The Repsol Honda star then only improved by three places in the afternoon session to finish the day down in 19th, 2.5s from the top.

The reason for his misery was simple; the cold conditions (air temperatures of just 9 and 15 degrees respectively) meant the 51kg Spaniard couldn't keep heat in his tyres.

"Very difficult day because the temperature was so cold that for me it was very difficult to go on the track. I tried this morning and I could feel that every lap I was out, I lost temperature in the tyre, instead of gaining temperature," he said.

"So I tried to increase my rhythm to create more pressure but immediately I fell in a fast place."

Pedrosa's tyre problems were brutally illustrated when he locked the front wheel, while braking in fifth gear, despite still being upright. The resulting fall left his RC213V on top of a tyre wall, forcing red flags while it was retrieved and repairs made to the airfence.

"I crashed in fifth gear, so I was going very fast. From one point of view I think, most of the run-off area was asphalt so maybe the bike didn't decelerate enough," he said. "But on the other side I was very lucky it was only asphalt, because I crashed so fast that if I went into gravel I would have tumbled over and over with a lot of speed.

"Instead I only slid and it was good. I could see that the bike was going fast to the wall and then hit the airfence and ended up on top... My crash was a strange crash. Normally you should not have this kind of crash.

"Then in the second practice was a bit better, I can use more the tyre, but again every lap that I was out I lose temperature and pressure in the tyre. Front and rear. So I lose confidence every lap I stayed out. I tried to push, but I feel the tyre lose temperature."

Pedrosa, who like world championship leading team-mate Marc Marquez missed the recent test, admitted his weight was a significant factor and must now hope for warmer Saturday weather to make a delayed start to his set-up work.

"I suffer more than other riders. Sure it was not ideal for anyone today to be so cold, but I suffer a lot as you could see in the morning. I just hope that tomorrow is a bit better weather wise and I can improve my feeling and my confidence to attack more the tyres more on the track.

"Unfortunately I lost first practice and of course setting-wise we are not super good compared to others [after missing the test]. I hope it's a little bit in the normal temperature range tomorrow morning to use the tyre and profit from the practice."

The short Red Bull Ring circuit has just ten corners, but Pedrosa revealed it is more technical than it appears.

"Quite difficult actually. Maybe it's because of the conditions. But there are a lot of places to win or lose time quite easily, if you have the right or wrong set-up. Looks like there are some sectors, like sector 4, where everybody is similar and others - like 2 or 3 - where the gap between the riders is big."

LCR's Cal Crutchlow - who attended the test - was the leading Honda in fifth place (+1.0s), with Marquez starting the weekend in tenth.

By Peter McLaren