MotoGP rookie Casey Stoner expects to be fit for the 2006 season opening Spanish Grand Prix, on March 26, after undergoing surgery to repair an old tendon injury in his right shoulder - which flared up during recent testing at Sepang.
Stoner has been told that he will be able to ride in four weeks - meaning that he will almost certainly miss both of the official IRTA tests, at Catalunya (on March 3-5) and Jerez (on March 10-12), but be back on his RC211V in time for his first MotoGP race weekend.
"This is brilliant, very positive news and without any complications I'm planning to be at Jerez to ride with the LCR Honda team in the first GP," Stoner told AAP. "I won't be 100 per cent fit for the first race because I'll miss some testing and training but I'm looking forward to going racing.
"I was keen to get the injury treated now, a proper fix before the season starts, even if it means I won't be able to push flat-out in the first race," added the young Australian. "It's a long season and this is a learning year for me in MotoGP and I also have the rest of my career to think of.
"I have been comfortable with my pace in testing, both at Phillip Island and Sepang, and that was with my shoulder not being 100 per cent. In the past, I only felt some pain if I crashed and fell on my shoulder, but then last week in Malaysia it flared up just from riding so it was important to get it fixed now," he concluded.
Stoner finished runner-up to Dani Pedrosa in the 2005 250cc World Championship