Commentary: Why it’s too soon to write off Dani Pedrosa

Some have dismissed him has a spent force, but Dani Pedrosa succeeded in reminding us at Aragon that he still has what it takes to be at the top in MotoGP, says Jamie Klein.

Commentary: Why it’s too soon to write off Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Second place Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing and Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Second place Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Casey Stoner
Dani Pedrosa
Polesitter Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, second place Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

After all his recent struggles, it’s easy to forget just what a good MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa is – until he turns in the sort of performance we saw last weekend at Aragon.

When Valentino Rossi shadows his rivals in the way we saw him following Pedrosa’s wheeltracks, there is always an air of inevitability that he will make the pass happen one way or another.

What was less expected was the way that Pedrosa responded to Rossi’s assault – ultimately coming out on top in an enthralling scrap for the runner-up spot behind runaway victor Jorge Lorenzo.

Afterwards, it was refreshing to see Pedrosa visibly buoyed after prevailing in what he described as "surely one of the best battles” of his career.

"You can have a good battle with many riders, but Valentino is the master of these situations,” said the Spaniard in the post-race press conference at Aragon.

"Normally he's so comfortable in those moments and he has so much confidence - he can play a lot with the bike, try different lines, change braking points and apex points.

"He's super comfortable with that and it's one of my weakest points. So I'm really happy about that achievement.”

Aragon was by far the most convincing performance by Pedrosa since his arm pump surgery that caused him to miss three rounds early this year.

Had the surgery proved unsuccessful, it could have spelled the end of a glittering career that has seen the 29-year-old win at least one race every year since his premier class debut in 2006.

Indeed, given his recent travails, it’s easy to forget that Pedrosa was being touted by some as the next Rossi at the start of his career, having won back-to-back 250cc titles in 2004 and 2005 to go along with his 2003 125cc crown.

Such was Honda’s belief in its new star that the team designed its 800cc contender around his pint-sized frame, all but scuppering teammate Nicky Hayden’s attempts at defending his hard-fought (but often underappreciated) 2006 title.

It took Honda a long time to perfect the RC212V, however – and by the time it did, Pedrosa suffered the misfortune of being joined at the works Repsol squad in 2011 by Casey Stoner, who duly delivered Honda’s first title since Hayden’s at the first time of asking.

Opportunity missed in 2012

2012 offered Pedrosa perhaps his best opportunity to secure that elusive title, as Stoner announced his impending retirement early in the year and later missed three races to have surgery on his ankle.

But a bizarre start procedure fiasco at Misano forced poleman Pedrosa, who was in the midst of the run of his career, to start from the back. He was wiped out by Hector Barbera on the opening lap, fatally damaging his title aspirations.

It was indicative of Pedrosa’s luck that, just as Stoner bowed out, he was joined at Repsol Honda in 2013 by the mega-talented Marc Marquez, who has well and truly put his teammate in the shade during their time alongside one another.

Clearly, his best chance of winning the world championship is behind him – but can he maintain his incredible record of scoring at least one victory per season in the last four rounds?

“I don’t know, it depends on many things,” said Pedrosa when asked that very question by BT Sport after the Aragon race.

“Here we should have been faster but we struggled, and our bike is a little harder to ride [than the Yamaha].

“When it’s not perfect, you can make mistakes like Marc [did] today, even though he was super-strong. But we’ll try to take the chance if it comes.”

An underrated talent

With 26 MotoGP victories to his name, Pedrosa is by far the most successful rider never to have won a premier class title, ahead of the likes of Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey in the all-time win list.

And that’s before you consider the quality of the opposition he has had to overcome for those wins, which during the span of Pedrosa’s career has arguably been higher than ever before.

Alas, it seems all but certain the Spaniard will be dropped to make way for a younger rider who can provide more of a consistent threat to the elite trio of Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo after his existing contract expires at the end of 2016.

Honda’s loss could nevertheless very well be a huge gain for a lesser factory such as Suzuki, Ducati, Aprilia or even 2017 newcomer KTM, all of which would benefit enormously from Pedrosa’s decade of experience on Honda prototypes.

What Pedrosa demonstrated at Aragon was that the desire to succeed still burns brightly within him – don’t rule out the possibility of him adding to that win tally just yet.

shares
comments
Marquez admits to “lack of patience” after Aragon tumble
Previous article

Marquez admits to “lack of patience” after Aragon tumble

Next article

Aspar confirms Yonny Hernandez for 2016

Aspar confirms Yonny Hernandez for 2016
Load comments
Valentino Rossi’s 10 greatest MotoGP races Prime

Valentino Rossi’s 10 greatest MotoGP races

As the Italian legend finally bows out and retires from MotoGP, it marks the end of one of the most incredible careers in motorsport history. Here is Motorsport.com's pick of his best rides and the stories behind them

How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race Prime

How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race

The 2021 MotoGP season may have only just ended but preparations for 2022 are well underway following a two-day test at Jerez this week. Ducati has hit the ground running while a lack of progress dominated Yamaha’s and world champion Fabio Quartararo’s test. While no battle lines have been drawn yet for 2022, it appears Ducati has already drawn first blood...

MotoGP
Nov 20, 2021
Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late Prime

Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late

Suzuki is on the search for a new team manager after its decision not to replace Davide Brivio at the start of 2021 was backed up by its unsuccessful bid to help Joan Mir defend his 2020 MotoGP world title. But whoever Shinichi Sahara appoints next, it may have already come too late to convince Mir to stick with the project

MotoGP
Nov 19, 2021
How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career Prime

How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career

The greatest chapter in MotoGP history came to a close at the Valencia Grand Prix as Valentino Rossi bid farewell after 26 seasons of grand prix racing. While his run to a strong 10th was a pleasing end to his time in MotoGP, it was what happened at the front of the grid that capped the Italian's ideal send-off

MotoGP
Nov 15, 2021
Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove Prime

Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove

OPINION: MotoGP-bound Darryn Binder was already under the microscope as his jump from Moto3 to join RNF's new top-class team was announced. But his crash with title hopeful Dennis Foggia caused significant consternation among the ranks - with many current riders suggesting the top level should be harder to break into as a result

MotoGP
Nov 9, 2021
How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo Prime

How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo’s first DNF of his title-winning 2021 MotoGP season couldn’t have come at a better time. But the events of the Yamaha rider’s Algarve Grand Prix exposed the M1’s well-known major weakness, which could threaten his championship defence given the increasingly Ducati-heavy makeup of the grid heading into 2022

MotoGP
Nov 8, 2021
What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression Prime

What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression

The pressure shouldered by young riders is at the root of the increased on-track aggression seen in lower categories of late, which motorcycling's governing bodies want to curb with new rules. But will stopping under-18s from racing in the world championship and capping grid sizes prevent the often desperate acts of youths pursuing their MotoGP dreams?

MotoGP
Nov 2, 2021
The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano Prime

The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano

The prospect of Fabio Quartararo clinching the 2021 MotoGP world championship title at Misano appeared small after struggling to 15th in qualifying, while main rival Francesco Bagnaia took pole. Here's how the Yamaha rider turned it around, with help from an ill-fated Bagnaia tyre choice, to secure the crown with two races to spare

MotoGP
Oct 25, 2021