Hiroshi Aoyama is confident he is ready to come back to racing at Indianapolis this weekend, just over two months after injuring his back in a crash at Silverstone.
The 2009 250cc champion sustained a fractured vertebrae when he fell in the warm-up for the British Grand Prix. The initial expectation would be that he might be sidelined until late September, but after a successful test at Brno a fortnight ago, Aoyama will race the Interwetten Honda again in America.
"It was not a really hard crash, a simple crash. But when I crashed I had so much pain and they brought me to the hospital, and the doctor said my back is broken and it takes three months [to heal]," Aoyama recalled.
"I was very sure at the beginning, I didn't want it to be that [long], but after that I stayed in my bed for one month. Sometime I had hand and leg numbness, so I was really scared. But now I can come back. It was a really hard time being at home for two months. But I did testing two weeks ago in Brno and the feeling was okay. So I think now it's time to come back to the racetrack."
He admitted that he was still far from full fitness, and that he had been in discomfort during the Brno test.
"We made a special corset for riding the bike because my back is not 100 per cent yet, so I need some support," said Aoyama. "With this I can ride normally. I hope I don't have so much pain during this weekend. Last time in testing I did 10 laps continuously, it was okay, but after that I had to lay down on the floor. Now it's two weeks later, so I hope it's going to be better."
Aoyama added that his lay-off had been tough to cope with.
"These two months I was away watching the MotoGP and I was kind of stressed, but also I felt I love motorcycle [racing] and I'm really happy that I can ride a bike again, and also I can walk normally," he said.
Honda test driver Kousuke Akiyoshi took Aoyama's place initially during his recovery period, before Interwetten brought in former Gresini Honda rider turned Moto2 competitor Alex de Angelis for three rounds.