Dani Pedrosa says he is extremely unlikely to be able to race in Malaysia this weekend, leaving Jorge Lorenzo just needing a handful of points to become world champion at Sepang.
Honda rider Pedrosa sustained a broken collarbone when a throttle problem caused him to crash at the start of Friday practice at Motegi last week.
He flew back to Spain and had surgery over the weekend, but while he did not completely rule out trying to race in Malaysia on Sunday, he does not expect to ride again until the following week's Australian Grand Prix.
"I am still very stiff in my neck and across the back of my shoulders, so the target is to get back to racing in Australia," said Pedrosa. "There is a very small possibility of going to Malaysia, but the realistic target is Australia."
Pedrosa had been Lorenzo's closest rival in the title race this season, but is now 69 points behind having missed the Japanese GP. Assuming Pedrosa sits out Sepang as he suspects, Lorenzo will only need six points for 10th place to clinch his first MotoGP title.
Although frustrated that the injury had ruined his championship challenge, Pedrosa said initial progress in his recovery had been good.
"I had another check-up today and it shows clearly that the plate on my collarbone is very well fixed and the progress has been good after the operation," he said.
"My condition has improved over the last two days and I'm doing passive rehabilitation with my physiotherapist at the moment. I am still not able to move the arm by myself but with massage it's getting better.
"It's a real pity that this happened when we had such a lot of momentum with our results, but we simply have to deal with it."