“Next year I will not be competing in the Championship” was how Dani Pedrosa started his retirement announcement today at the start of the German GP in Sachsenring.
Confirming the retirement suspicions that swirled ahead of the press launch, Pedrosa thanked Honda, his sponsors, and Dorna for the 18 years of support that they have shown him in grand prix racing.
Set to be named a MotoGP Legend at the season finale at Valencia, Pedrosa has been a force to be reckoned with in Grand Prix racing. Though he never won a MotoGP title, he was one of the original “aliens” when that phrase was coined, and has always been a contender when on the starting grid.
As such, Pedrosa holds the third-most podiums in grand prix racing (153), along with 54 race wins, and three World Championship titles (one in 125GP and two in 250GP).
“Next year I will not compete in the Championship, I’ll finish my career in MotoGP this season,” said Pedrosa in special press conference at Sachsenring.
“It’s a decision I’ve thought about for a long time, and it’s a hard decision because this is the sport I love, but despite having good opportunities to keep racing, I feel like I don’t live racing with the same intensity as before and I now have different priorities in my life.”
Before today, Pedrosa’s announcement has wavered both in timing and message, as at first it seemed that the Spaniard would move from the factory Honda team to a satellite Yamaha squad, backed by the Sepang International Circuit and Petronas.
Moving his announcement from Catalunya, to Holland, and now to Germany, what was predicted to be a team announcement turned into the expectation of Pedrosa ending his career, after being forced out of the Repsol Honda team by his former manager, Alberto Puig.
Three-times a runner-up in the MotoGP category, Pedrosa has been the constant bridesmaid in the premier class, but he has always been one of the class’s fiercest competitors.
Before the switch to Michelin tires, which has played havoc on Pedrosa’s riding ability, the Honda rider could never be counted out from podium contention or even a race win.
He gained the ire of American fans in 2006, when he collided with his teammate Nicky Hayden at Estoril, which put the American rider’s chances of winning the MotoGP title in jeopardy.
Hayden would go on to win the title in the final race of the season, and the two riders quickly moved past the incident professionally, but American fans held onto the crash for many, many years, with “Pedrosa Sucks” t-shirts unfortunately being part of the American racing landscape.
It seems only recently, and perhaps Hayden’s untimely passing is part of it, that American MotoGP fans have begun to move beyond Pedrosa’s mistake from 12 years ago.
At the Americas GP this year, Pedrosa was cheered warmly by the American fans because of the brave race he performed, while clearly riding still injured from his crash at Argentina.
For those in the MotoGP paddock who know Dani better, and see past the nationalism and politics that come with MotoGP, Dani Pedrosa has always been a quiet, thoughtful, and intelligent rider.
Fierce on the race track, his nickname of “Little Samurai” is easily earned, and while he may never have won the MotoGP Championship title, he is easily one of the best riders to be in the premier class in the past two decades.
We will miss seeing him race motorcycles, and hope he doesn’t stray too far from the sport in his retirement.
“I would like to express how fortunate I feel to have had this experience and these opportunities in my life, it’s been an amazing life to have been racing for such an important team and in front of all the fans.”
“I achieved way more than I expected and I’m very, very proud of what I’ve done in the sport. I’ve fulfilled my dream of becoming a racer and that’s something that I didn’t expect when I was a kid watching TV, watching riders in the World Championship.”
“I would like to take this time to say thanks to Dorna and to Honda for giving me this opportunity way back in 1999, and to all my sponsors who’ve been with me throughout my career.”
“I would like also to say thanks to my family, and to all the fans who supported me throughout my career and through the thick and thin, who helped me sending so many messages to overcome difficult things in the past.”