Alex Hofmann will make his return to the Kawasaki Racing Team for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, having now recovered from the injuries he sustained in a crash during a promotional event seven weeks ago.
Hofmann, who celebrated his 25th birthday just a week ago, suffered a fractured ulna and scaphoid in his left wrist when he was highsided from his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR in Estoril during a MotoGP parade.
The factory Kawasaki rider underwent a rigorous fitness assessment on Wednesday evening at Mugello before being given the green light to race this weekend by Kawasaki's MotoGP Project Leader, Kenichi Furuhashi, and Kawasaki Team Manager, Harald Eckl.
But while a fitness assessment is a good indicator of a rider's ability to race, it is difficult for medical clinicians to replicate the physical demands of racing a 250BHP MotoGP machine. Hofmann will only find out if he is truly fit to race when he takes to the track aboard his Ninja ZX-RR for the opening practice session on Friday morning.
On standby, should Hofmann's recently healed injuries cause him problems during Friday's practice session, is Kawasaki super-sub, Olivier Jacque. The Frenchman will be at Mugello and also at Catalunya, where he will test for Kawasaki immediately after the Grand Prix of Catalunya.
Fully fit and raring to go for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix is Hofmann's Kawasaki teammate, Shinya Nakano. The Japanese star is looking forward to again spearheading Kawasaki's increasingly competitive MotoGP campaign at Mugello. Recent engine developments, including a drive-by-wire engine control system, have allowed Nakano to post impressive qualifying and race performances at the French GP.
And following a productive engine and tyre test at Le Mans two weeks ago, Nakano is convinced the Ninja ZX-RR will put him in contention at Mugello, just a year after he walked away from a nightmare 300 kph crash on the super-fast main straight at the classic Italian circuit.
Nakano has prepared for the Italian GP with a training camp in France, undertaking a series of mountain runs and outdoor exercises, including jet skiing, as a break from gym workouts.
Alex Hofmann: #66;
"I've spent seven weeks preparing for this weekend, working with my doctor and physiotherapist to ensure that I was ready to make my return to racing at Mugello. I've done everything possible to make sure I'm fit for this race, but racing a MotoGP bike at a track like Mugello is physically demanding, and I'll only really find out if all the preparation has been successful when I take to the track on Friday morning. I'm fairly confident that everything will be fine, and I'm definitely looking forward to racing the bike again after such a long lay off."
Shinya Nakano: #56;
"I'm feeling refreshed after the training camp in France, it is always good to try some different training methods. I'm very positive about our potential at Mugello, especially after the success of the Kawasaki test at Le Mans. Front end set-up and tyre choice are both critical at Mugello, there are many fast changes of direction, with heavy braking and downhill corner entries. After the Le Mans test I think both Kawasaki and Bridgestone have some excellent options in these areas. Mugello has some bad memories for me from last year, but I want to try and forget that with a good result on Sunday, which will show the true potential of the ZX-RR."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager;
"Alex will try the bike for the first time on Friday morning, and I hope that his injuries have healed sufficiently for him to make a good result in the opening practice session. Should he suffer any problems with his injuries when he rides the bike, then we always have the option to replace him with Olivier Jacque, who is on standby at Mugello for just such an eventuality."