Rating the Riders: Dani Pedrosa

12/30/2015 @ 8:41 am, by David Emmett11 COMMENTS

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Dani Pedrosa, Honda, 4th, 206 points – Score: 8

If you wanted the very definition of a roller coaster career, look no further than Dani Pedrosa. Three world championships in the junior classes, and one of the most successful riders in the premier class.

He has never won a championship, but he has come within a whisker in 2012, winning more races than the eventual champion Jorge Lorenzo. Injury has dogged him, breaking most of the bones in his body, and fracturing his collarbone so often there is hardly a piece left intact.

His collarbone nearly ended his MotoGP career once, the plate fitted after his practice crash in Motegi in 2010 causing Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, causing numbness and weakness in his left arm, making it almost impossible to last a race.

He suffered through 2011, until the removal of the plate on his collarbone fixed the problem. He was back with a vengeance in 2012, winning seven races and getting close to beating Jorge Lorenzo. That experience stood him in good stead in 2015.

Pedrosa had suffered with arm pump all through 2013, then had surgery to try to fix the problem in 2014.

That had not succeeded – perhaps because of the strain of racing a Honda RC213V that was getting ever more difficult to ride – and Pedrosa had tried a range of non-invasive therapies over the winter, which he was confident would fix the problem.

At Qatar, that proved not to be the case. Pedrosa finished the first race of the year in severe pain, and unable to be truly competitive. For the second time in his life, he faced the end of his MotoGP career.

Perhaps his previous experience stood him in good stead. Pedrosa took the incredibly brave decision to fly back to Spain and seek immediate treatment, abandoning any idea of racing until he was fit again.

His courage – or perhaps we should say, his wisdom – continued during his recovery, Pedrosa resisting the temptation to come back early, choosing to miss his home race at Jerez in favor of an extra two weeks of rest.

His return was far from encouraging: a front-end crash forced him to remount and come back to sixteenth place. He fared a little better after that, finishing fourth at Mugello, then getting on the podium at his home race in Barcelona.

His form sagged after another podium at the Sachsenring, but his fitness was improving, and Pedrosa was getting stronger as the year approached its climax.

Key to it all was a gain in confidence, his right arm feeling better and better after every race. The surgery had been drastic: normally, to fix arm pump, the surgeons open up the sheath that surrounds the muscles to make room for them to expand.

Pedrosa had this sheath, the fascia, removed altogether, and it took a long time for the swelling after races to subside. As Pedrosa grew to understand his recovery, and his condition, he could focus more on racing, and less on worrying about the condition of his forearm.

By the time he arrived at Aragon, his confidence was really starting to return.

Pedrosa’s domination of Valentino Rossi in a straight dogfight was both surprising and impressive. In previous years, Pedrosa had never offered much resistance, but at Aragon, Pedrosa gave as good as he got. It was only for second place, but it was surely a sign of things to come.

Victory at Motegi was resounding, and after a blip at Phillip Island, he repeated his Motegi performance with a display of superiority that was simply astounding. It was a shame that his win was overshadowed by the Clash of the Titans behind him. He deserved the acclaim, instead his victory was almost totally ignored.

Dani Pedrosa is unjustly disparaged by fans for his failure to win a MotoGP championship in his ten years aboard the Repsol Honda. Ask his fellow riders, and it is Pedrosa who amazes them most of all.

Newcomer Maverick Viñales singled out Pedrosa as the most impressive rider to watch, and the one he felt he could learn most from. Cal Crutchlow has repeatedly said he believes that Pedrosa would have multiple titles if he had been on a bike that was not so physically demanding to ride.

When we look back at this New Golden Age of racing, Dani Pedrosa is the rider who is most likely to be overlooked. That is unfair, and unjust, for Pedrosa has shown wisdom, talent, fortitude and moral courage throughout his career.

Dani Pedrosa is the toughest nut in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and 2015 was yet another example of a truly exceptional racer.

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Photos: © 2015 Tony Goldsmith / www.tonygoldsmith.net – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • CookedDragon

    I expect Pedrosa to have a lot of new fans in 2016, me included. I’ll be rooting for him, Rossi, and the guys at Suzuki.

  • Surya De

    Pedrosa has truly grown on me as a rider over the years. Lorenzo might be a champion and a triple champion at that but it’s very easy to like Pedrosa than it is to like Lorenzo for me at least.

  • Johnny

    Always loved DP26. Especially after he broke his ankles at PI having won the title (250s was it ?). I even remember VR speaking glowingly of his skill in the smaller formulas (right up until DP joined the big boys and posed a threat to VR; then it was vitriol since.
    I didn’t care if he was monosyllabic or ppl mocked his size. I still rooted for him when CS27 came and won right off the bat with his bike. And MM93 for that matter. Every season, I hopelessly romanticized that DP would win. Once.
    I personally think he’s had his time. He can excel the odd race or two but win a championship, never. I’d love to see him on a Yamaha or Suzuki with agility being their main strong points suiting his pint size.
    The US press hated him post Estoril 06. They claimed Hayden’s weak defense of his title was because of DP and Puig. Of course it was bolloxs.
    I also love how post Sepang, everyone spoke of his dignity and comportment. Especially the VRists. Like a cheap dig at MM/JL in contrast. I saw that for what it was. The realization that DP would never overcome VR and so he has become non threatening to him and his baying hoardes. They conveniently forget the insinuations about his relationship with Puig; the accusation that his size confers an advantage; the allegation that 800s were hrc’s way of getting DP to win, etc. Belatedly he became ‘respected’.
    His comeback this year has been about guts and no little amount of skill. Here’s hoping for success for DP26 in 16…..

  • Joe King

    Moral courage???? Pleeze

    What risk did he take for moral reasons? He’s a coddled, highly compensated motorcycle racer not some saint who put himself in jeopardy to selflessly help others. The term hardly applies to anything he has done except if you consider cheating & putting the safety of others at risk…courageous.

    http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/popular/dani-pedrosa-arrested-cheating-yacht-exam/

  • TCWB

    just FYI, 3rd image from the top is MM93.

  • Aww nuts!

  • Guest

    Yup, usa special helmet

  • AndrewF

    Do you remember when Asphalt & Rubber was the source of original and often interesting content? Nowadays 3/4 of articles here are just reprints from David Emmet and don’t get me wrong, he is fantastic – but I can read his articles on motomatters.

    So as New Year approaches, best wishes for 2016. One of my wishes would be for the return of the old site!

  • D3

    Mmm, because I remember Jensen putting up super in depth examinations of each day at the GP’s, as well as extra bits and pieces behind the scenes, being so close to the paddock…

    Wait, no I don’t.

  • AndrewF

    You’re right – he didn’t, back then the site was much more focused on road bikes. Which is actually a subject much closer to my heart than racing.

  • tony

    question, for all you obi-wan types…did pedro do better when motogp was 800cc? member that? why couldnt hrc bring a new version of that for the lil fella? who earned more respect from me than anyone else this year…