Sete Gibernau may already have ridden in his last race for the Ducati Marlboro Team after it was announced that, despite a successful operation to transplant stem cells into his damaged hand and collarbone, the Spaniard will not be fit in time for the Valencia season finale on October 29.

Gibernau injured his still-healing left collarbone and fractured the fifth metacarpal bone in his right hand when he struck Casey Stoner's fallen bike early in Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix (pictured). Gibernau had only just recovered from two operations to plate the same collarbone after it was broken in June's Catalan Grand Prix.

Gibernau left Portugal immediately after the race to go to Madrid's San Jos? hospital, where he underwent a new kind of medical treatment, which has been in use over the last two months in Spain, and has now been applied to a professional sportsman for the first time ever. The treatment consisted of the extraction of stem cells and their subsequent injection into the affected areas. In this case the cells were applied to the hand and collarbone. The operation, which lasted less than an hour, was carried out by Dr. ?ngel Villamor.

"The results obtained with this technique on patients with weakened bones and repeated fractures have so far been very satisfactory. For this reason we decided to apply it to Sete Gibernau: the fact that one of the two plates inserted in his collarbone had given way gave rise to fears that the bone was not strong enough," he explained. "The operation, which avoids the immobilisation of the traumatised limb, went well. Hopefully within a month or so we can confirm the complete efficiency of the treatment applied to Sete and he can return to his normal sporting activity."

Gibernau, who left hospital on Tuesday, now requires a period of rest which will rule him out of the final GP of the 2006 season. In the next few days Ducati Corse will decide whether or not to replace him for the race - but the team already appears to have replaced him for 2007, with 21-year-old rookie Stoner - already confirmed as leaving Honda LCR - now all but certain to ride alongside Loris Capirossi next season.

In the meantime, two days of tests for the Ducati MotoGP team have concluded at the Estoril circuit, after being affected by changeable weather. Capirossi and test rider Vittoriano Guareschi managed to take advantage of every moment of available track time to continue development work on the Desmosedici GP7.



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