MotoGP champion Casey Stoner says he has recovered only 50 per cent from injury but is ready to take "life-changing" risks in his comeback to crown his final year in Grand Prix racing.
The Australian is set to race at the Grand Prix of Japan tomorrow, having missed the last three events after injuring his right knee in a crash during qualifying at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in August.
The Honda rider's absence means it is now impossible for him to retain his crown, with the 2012 championship currently led by Yamaha ace Jorge Lorenzo, on 290 points, and Honda's Dani Pedrosa, in second place on 257.
"Fifty per cent, maybe," said Stoner, still seen limping, about the progress of his recovery.
"I expected my body to be up around 80 per cent, trying to be 70 or 80. But it's not even close to that right now. So I'm a little bit disappointed that we didn't make a little more progress with the injury."
Stoner underwent surgery on August 30 after suffering torn ligaments and fractures to his ankle, tibia and fibula at Indianapolis, although he still lined up for the race and finished fourth.
"To be honest, I expected more [progress] but the doctors didn't. The doctors warned me that it's going to be six to eight months before we know it's acceptable," said the 2007 and 2011 world champion who turns 27 on Tuesday.
"It's only two months, so I'm a little bit greedy."
Asked if he had thought about the health risks involved, he said: "If I crash again and injure the same foot, then the injury could be, you know, life-changing, for a while anyway.
"Honestly, probably, I shouldn't be back here," Stoner admitted. "But I was not going to miss Phillip Island in my last season. For me to at least get back the speed before I get there is better."
Stoner finished seventh in practice yesterday. Honda's Pedrosa was fastest in 1 minute, 46.088 seconds.
Lorenzo was second on his Yamaha, 0.102 seconds back and another Yamaha rider, Andrea Dovizioso, was third in 1:46.282.