CycleOnline.com.au's latest take on the grand prix season.
Spanish veteran Dani Pedrosa is no doubt one of the most polarising racers in the world championship, holding a prized Repsol Honda contract for over a decade without a MotoGP World Championship to his name. A triple world title winner in the lower tiers, he’s well-credentialled, but people do question how he’s remained for so long.
Since his MotoGP entrance way back in 2006, Pedrosa has partnered Nicky Hayden (2006-2008), Andrea Dovizioso (2009-2011), Casey Stoner (2011-2012) and Marc Marquez (2013-current). The current all-Spaniard combo of Marquez and Pedrosa will remain through 2018.
During the 10 full seasons since Pedrosa has been in the team, his teammates have won the world championship five times (Hayden 2006, Stoner 2011, Marquez 2013 and 2014). And the latter is well on his way to clinching a third crown in 2016.
However you can’t deny that Pedrosa, now 30, has always proven to be world-class. In his time at Repsol Honda for his entire MotoGP career, he’s finished fifth, second, third, third, second, fourth, second, third, fourth and fourth in the standings. He’s now fourth again this season so far.
Last weekend came out of the blue for Pedrosa at San Marino, slicing through the field for his 29th MotoGP victory. In just his third podium of the year, the win at Misano kept his record alive of winning at least one race every year of his MotoGP career. It’s a lengthy time to stay at the top of the sport, even if it is becoming for one-off races.
“It was a great race and it has been a long time since I’ve had these feelings,” Pedrosa admitted on Sunday evening. “Even I was surprised by the performance I put in today because I hadn’t expected to go so fast – we were fantastic. The key was the pace, I was able to fight my way through, especially in the final part, and being consistent allowed me to catch the riders at the front.
“It’s very nice for me to take a victory again, after all the effort made by those who have been with me in this challenging season so far – my family, my team and my fans. It has been very difficult, so I’m very happy for all of them. Today I enjoyed myself, although I was a little worried about the choice of front tyre because I hadn’t used it in hot conditions. In the end we were focused and everything went very well. It was an opportunity we had to take advantage of and I think we achieved a great victory.”
So with over 250 grands prix to his credit, what can we expect from Pedrosa in the next two seasons at Honda Racing Corporation in MotoGP? A world championship is becoming harder to capture by the year, but with Yamaha knocking on his door before he re-signed with Honda and they signed Maverick Vinales, he’s still well-valued.
“I’m very happy to be able to announce my renewal with the Repsol Honda Team,” Pedrosa commented back in May. “I’m very grateful to Honda for the trust they’ve shown in renewing with me for an additional two years. I think it’s best for me to continue with the company I was with at my very first race. I’m happy that the negotiations have been quick and now I can just focus on racing.”
It’s been a loyal relationship between Pedrosa and HRC for many years and he’s said to provide valuable feedback in terms of bike development year in, year out. A good result would be to keep winning the odd race, which he’s surely capable of considering his form last Sunday.