Dani Pedrosa makes return to track action on Honda 250
Four months after his serious accident at the Phillip Island circuit during the Australian GP, 125cc World Champion Dani Pedrosa finally made his return to action today at a team test session in Valencia. Many will remember the scenes just a week after the young Spaniard had been proclaimed World Champion, as he ran off track into a tyre wall and suffered two broken ankles to cut short the thrill of having sealed the title. He finished the most eagerly awaited few kilometres of his life today on board the factory Honda 250 machine he will ride in this season's quarter-litre championship, and the pint-sized Catalan already gave a clue as to what he might be capable of. He stopped the clock in a best time of 1'36.9 today, not too far from the day's best of 1'36.3 – shared by his compatriot and ex-teammate Toni Elías and Italy's Franco Battaini.
Pedrosa was more than satisfied after his return to the track, "I was desperate to get back out on a circuit. At first I admit I had a few difficulties but after that I felt comfortable, more than both the team and I had hoped for."
Alberto Puig, who has moved with Pedrosa as his team manager and mentor, added, "It's important to take it step by step. What Dani has done today is really good, considering how long he's been inactive for."
The Telefonica Movistar Junior Team rider was one of the first to get out on track this sunny morning at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo de la Comunitat Valenciana, but the breeze that had been around at that time soon turned into a light rain, and with the necessary caution he decided to stay in the pits between 1pm and 3:30pm, when track conditions were at their most delicate.
Alongside Pedrosa on the Valencian asphalt, was his new team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama, Honda colleagues Alex Debón and Eric Bataille, as well as a big group of Aprilia riders made up of Fonsi Nieto, Sebastian Porto, Arnaud Vincent, Chaz Davies, Johan Stigefelt, Franco Battaini, Sylvain Guintoli and Joan Olivé.
Fortuna Honda team riders Toni Elias and Roberto Rolfo had their first run out on the 2004 version of their Honda RS 250 RW. Both were content with the new bike's performance, despite a crash today for the pair of them (Elias twice) as they went out on the slightly damp tarmac. The crashes were not serious though and Rolfo expressed his opinions on his new machine, "The bike feels much more compact than the previous model. It's a little early to get a precise idea, but I got a good first impression."
The local boy from the Troll Honda BQR team, Alex Debon, also went to ground, and took a knock on the arm. His participation in tomorrow's test session is in doubt at the moment.
Campetella team riders, Sylvain Guintoli, Franco Battaini and Joan Olivé were also completing their very first test of the 2004 pre-season.
T. Elías 1'36.3 (91 laps)
F. Battaini 1'36.3 (36)
F. Nieto 1'36.4 (80)
D. Pedrosa 1'36.9 (68)
H. Aoyama 1'36.9 (84)
J. Olivé 1'37.0 (47)
R. Rolfo 1'37.3 (71)
C.Davies 1'38.2 (75)
A.Debón 1'38.5 (31)
S. Guintoli 1'39.4 (61)
J. Stigefelt 1'40.4 (69).