Rossi's pain casts shadow over Pedrosa's pole position
Spain's Dani Pedrosa of Honda took pole position for today's MotoGP Italian Grand Prix in qualifying yesterday, but it was overshadowed by a crash involving Italian master Valentino Rossi.
Nine-time world champion Rossi and his Yamaha came to grief 15 minutes from the end of the practice session yesterday morning.
Rossi, who has won in Mugello nine times during his career in all categories, was stretchered off the track and taken to the medical centre, where he was diagnosed with "a displaced and exposed fracture of his right tibia," according to the official MotoGP website.
Rossi was then taken to Florence to undergo an operation and looks likely to miss a couple of months of the season.
"It's an injury more serious than we thought," Doctor Macchiagodena, who attended to Rossi, told motogp.com.
"Because it's an exposed fracture with the bone protruding from the skin. We have reduced the fracture, which fortunately has not affected any blood vessels or nerves.
"It is serious, it could be a couple of months, but it is too early to say just yet. He (Rossi) remained calm, but having seen the images he could already see it was a nasty fall."
On the track, Pedrosa timed faster than compatriot and series leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and last year's winner, Australian Casey Stoner (Ducati).
Pedrosa timed his final surge to perfection as he recorded his fastest mark 30 seconds from the end of the qualifying session, taking the 33rd pole of his career on a track where Honda last triumphed in 2003, when Rossi won.
Lorenzo spared a thought for his team-mate, saying that Rossi must be "in agony at the moment".
The Spaniard will nonetheless be seeking a third race win in succession today as he seeks to stretch his lead at the top of the standings.
Lorenzo led Rossi, who was fastest in practice on Friday, by nine points coming into the weekend.
A two-month spell on the sidelines would see Rossi miss the next six races and would seriously jeopardise his chances of successfully defending the title he won last year.
Stoner, world champion in 2007, grabbed a place on the front row of the grid also in the dying seconds of qualifying to give himself a welcome confidence boost after he failed to finish two of the first three races this season.