Dani Pedrosa's chances of winning the MotoGP Championship are all but gone after the Spaniard broke his left collarbone in a crash during practice for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.
The Honda rider, the only man who can stop Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) from grabbing his first season title, crashed within the first five minutes, having completed only two laps at the Motegi circuit.
The 25-year-old limped away from his bike and X-rays confirmed that he suffered a triple fracture to his left collarbone.
Pedrosa is already on his way back to Spain.
“The fall was a bit strange, it was during my third lap, on a slow part of the circuit,” Pedrosa said.
“I tried to brake the bike as usual but something didn't work and I was unable to avoid the fall.
“We have decided to return to Spain immediately for the operation. All I hope now is that it goes well and that I can return to race as soon as possible.”
With five races left in the season, Pedrosa is 56 points behind fellow Spaniard Lorenzo, who has collected 284 MotoGP points so far.
Australian Casey Stoner was fourth quickest for Ducati and has the chance on Sunday to close the gap on Pedrosa who has 228 points to Stoner's 155 with and Rossi on 140.
Qualifying will be later this afternoon.
Here is the practice video report