Dani Pedrosa has fractured his right collarbone in a huge Friday practice highside at the Japanese MotoGP.
The Spaniard, last year's race winner, was launched from his Repsol Honda at the 90-degree corner - at the end of the back straight - in the closing stages of FP2.
Pedrosa was on an out-lap when the incident, one of the biggest highsides in recent memory, occurred.
Miraculously able to walk away, Pedrosa's body language instantly suggested shoulder damage and the fracture was later confirmed at the medical centre.
Motegi is the first of three races in three weekends, meaning Pedrosa will also probably miss the following Phillip Island and Sepang rounds. That would then leave the season finale at Valencia on November 11-13.
Riders have returned just days after collarbone surgery, but having suffered so many similar injuries in the past - and being out of title contention - it is questionable whether Pedrosa should or would take the risk.
Pedrosa's absence means he is set to lose fourth in the world championship standings to Maverick Vinales, while Honda will face greater pressure from Yamaha in the constructors' and especially teams' championships.
Eugene Laverty also required medical checks after suffering a highside shortly after Pedrosa. The Irishman, moved from the track on a stretcher, later walked into the medical centre but is now being flown to hospital for precautionary scans.
Laverty was starting the first flying lap of his final run.