Fabien Foret has been cleared by his own doctor to return to World Supersport action for Yamaha at his home Magny-Cours round this weekend, after suffering head and spinal injuries at Brno in July.
Foret, world champion in 2002, will be taking things steady on his initial return, and both team and rider stress that there is no pressure on him this weekend - despite Eugene Laverty, who replaced Foret at the last two rounds, claiming a podium finish last time out in Vallelunga.
"It's been a long time away for me but now I am close to the end of it. I have decided to ride this weekend and I will take it like a test more than a race to begin with," said the Frenchman, already confirmed as staying Yamaha WSS for 2009. "The championship is done for me so I just want to get back into riding again. If I feel good, maybe I can push a bit, but we will see. For sure it's a bit better for me to come back to race in the French round, but I am not coming back just because of that. Part of me is now looking at preparing for 2009 anyway, so in some ways it's almost like starting the new season now."
"Fabien will be with us again this weekend and I think it is a good thing for him to come back now if he is able to," said Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha World Supersport team manager. "It was very unfortunate that Fabien was injured at that stage of the championship , of course, particularly as he was second in the standings at the time. But now there is no pressure on him because his championship position is not the priority, his health is. As Fabien has said, to get fit for riding you have to ride. You cannot simulate that so easily in the gym."
Foret will be joined by BSB star Cal Crutchlow at Yamaha next season, meaning current team-mate Broc Parkes - currently fourth in the standings with one race win - is racing for his WSS future.
The Australian has scored a podium finish in every Magny-Cours race he has competed in since 2004 and still has a mathematical chance of the 2008 crown, sitting 30 points behind countryman Andrew Pitt with 50 points remaining.
"I do go well there and I've scored some good results there over the years. After the last race I'm back on top again, back on my game. The idea this weekend is to put a little bit of pressure on the other guys at the front and try to come out of there with the championship still open," he declared.
"Broc has shown over the years that he loves the track, and he has won there in the recent past," said Zeelenberg. "As far as the machinery is concerned, we don't want to take too many risks at the moment so we will not be using our latest new electronics system. We have a real good set-up at the moment, and we will try to win at Magny-Cours, rather than being second or third."