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After looking at the top three finishers in MotoGP, our review of 2014 turns to the riders who didn’t make it onto the podium. After Marc MarquezValentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, we turn our attention to the men who finished behind them. Today, we review the seasons of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.

4th – 246 points – Dani Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa is easily the best rider never to win a MotoGP title, and if anything, 2014 merely reinforced that reputation.

By almost anyone’s standards, ten podiums, including a victory, and a total of 246 points – his fourth best since joining the premier class – is an outstanding year. But for a rider with aspirations of becoming world champion, it is simply not good enough.

Looked at another way, this was the worst season Pedrosa has had in MotoGP. The Repsol Honda rider has always managed to score multiple victories each year, even during his debut in 2006. This year, he never really looked a threat, except at Brno.

Throughout the year, Pedrosa was consistently behind the front runners, never capable of making a push to dominate.

What was Pedrosa’s biggest problem in 2014? Quite simply, the team’s approach to fixing the shortcomings of the preceding season.

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In 2013, Pedrosa had found himself coming up short in the second half of races, getting overhauled by either Marc Márquez or Jorge Lorenzo.

Over the winter, his crew, under chief mechanic Mike Leitner, had worked on a strategy to counter this situation, adjusting the balance of the bike to make it faster during the second half of the race.

The problem Pedrosa faced was that making the bike faster in the second half meant sacrificing some speed at the start, traditionally the strongest part of his race. In previous years, Pedrosa was a safe bet to be the first rider into the first corner.

In 2014, it was rare for him to get into the first corner inside the top five. That left him stuck behind other riders and struggling with a bike that wasn’t quite where he wanted it, his Honda RC213V only coming into its own as the fuel burnt off and the tires started to wear.

By the time he got past them, the leaders were too far gone for him to be able to catch them.

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Pedrosa’s predicament was made worse by the allowances made to Ducati. The soft tire the Bologna bikes were allowed meant that Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone often qualified very well, and ahead of Pedrosa.

Though Pedrosa had little problem lapping faster than the Ducatis during the race, getting past them was a different matter altogether. The Desmosedici had good top speed and, especially in the second half of the season, was very strong on the brakes.

It still would not turn, however, so Pedrosa would find himself parked behind a Ducati in the corners, struggling to get good enough drive to blast past on the straights, and unable to pass the bikes on the straights.

The change of strategy did not sit well with Pedrosa. He was frustrated at finding himself stuck in traffic. He pushed for more speed at the start of the race, but progress was not made at the pace he wanted. Like a tiger defanged, he felt he had been robbed of his strongest weapon.

Crew chief Mike Leitner felt that the cause needed to be sought elsewhere, pointing out to me at Silverstone that it was not so much that Pedrosa was slower, but that the rest had all caught up.

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“Now, these riders are all prepared to push hard from the beginning on, right from the start. I don’t think we made a step back, I think we stayed where we are. We just improved a little, because we were already at the limit, but the others also made a step.”

Leitner’s view exposed an underlying fracture in the relationship between crew chief and rider. From mid-season, rumors emerged from the Pedrosa camp that the Spaniard was unhappy with his crew chief, and was looking for a replacement.

By the end of September, the situation seemed to have been resolved, with Pedrosa accepting he would have to continue with Leitner. Leitner, however, was not so happy, especially after Pedrosa also had two of his mechanics replaced.

The Austrian handed in his notice, announcing he would like to spend some time at home, and away from MotoGP for a little while, though he has been linked with the MotoGP project KTM are putting together.

For 2015, Pedrosa will have a new crew chief in former data engineer Ramon Aurin. He will have a bike which should be a little easier to ride, if HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto’s word is to be believed.

But he will face the same challenges in the coming year as he faced in 2014: an exceptional and ambitious young teammate, a hungry and improving Valentino Rossi, and a Jorge Lorenzo out for revenge. Pedrosa will have to find improvement inside himself if he is to make real progress next year.

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Photos: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved

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

  • Piglet2010

    Yes, it seems that DP26’s efforts came up a bit short this year.

  • Damn

    Sinds Dani moved to MotoGP i never had the feeling “oooh hes gonna take the title away from VR/CS/JL. Yes in some races he could win, but i never ever seen dani as a title guy.
    Dani was brought to MotoGP to become or defeat VR. Instead Jorge took the title. And even NH took the title.

  • H.L.

    I like DP. Seems like a simple humble guy with the best ho-hum facial expressions in the box…but there is where the problem lies.

    True drama and anticipation in MotoGP will begin when a young fierce, hungry talented rider (Maverick, Redding, Miller) finally gets the second Repsol.

    Let’s not hold our breath though..It will probably go to the little brother in two years time.

  • PB

    Dani is unbelievably lucky to still have a job, in Motorsport the first thing you need to do is to beat your teammate.
    Hayden beat him to the title, as did Casey and Marquez on their fist season on the Honda, Dani has been the golden boy of honda for years and beaten no one.

  • MikeG81

    Aaron Pedrosa is still a great rider…sorry, I meant Dani Mamola…crap, nevermind.

  • Jw

    Honda needs a good number 2 guy on the team and DP fills this role

  • proudAmerican

    Always a bride’s maid, never the bride.

  • Andreas

    What are the disc covers on som of the pics for?

  • Piglet2010

    Andreas says: “What are the disc covers on som of the pics for?”

    Most likely keeping heat in CFRP brake discs in cooler weather.

  • Kyle

    Mamola is the best rider not to get a title.

  • GPChick

    Dani definitely was not pushing and taking chances like he has in the past. He never seeemed comfortable on the bike this season. He had his moments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a Dani fan but I’m going to chalk it up to bad timing. Maybe the injuries are holding him back, he is getting older….shall I say it…..he may have lost his edge. Ugh, I hate quoting Top Gun.

    On another note, the disc covers are to keep the brakes at a steady temp. Gotta love carbon fiber.

    If anyone is on twitter and wants to chat/comment for this up coming season just search for @Gixxiepixxie. I will be at the Austin race and Indy race and definitely will post. Conversely if you make it out to any of the races, I would love to see pics!!

    I was just at the the Losail track for the WSBK chamionship and had a blast!! I only wish I could be there for the first race of the season. (sad panda)

    Race fans only please.

  • crshnbrn

    @PB re: “Dani has been the golden boy of honda for years and beaten no one.”

    Since Pedrosa moved up to MotoGP in 2006, he has beaten every rider on the grid except for his teammate Marc Marquez. He just hasn’t managed to beat them all in the same year.

  • Piglet2010

    GPChick says: “…Ugh, I hate quoting Top Gun.”

    At least you were not named after a Top Gun character.

  • sburns2421

    If you recall, Pedrosa had an almost impeccable pedigree entering MotoGP. One 125cc title, two 250cc titles in his two years in that series (even Rossi had a learning year in 250s). He came into Repsol with all the hype and frankly was faster than Hayden when Nicky had the best season of his career (and the title due to consistency). But you could tell he was something special, in 2006 if you asked someone how many titles he would have by 2015, many would have said two or three. At least.

    But in the ensuing years, DP26 had as much bad luck as anyone with mechanical failures, freak crashes and/or injuries that would take him out of the championship. Simoncelli took him out in a bonehead pass attempt. His wheel sensor was ripped off by contact and he crashed. The 800cc Honda had trouble early on and HRC played catchup for a couple of seasons. Nearly every year something caused him to lose buckets of points, sometimes not his fault.

    I too think that perhaps his time has passed. The window for him to actually challenge for the championship cannot be more than another season or two. He is now clearly #2 at Repsol Honda, although as one of the top four riders in the world and with four bikes capable of winning, it makes sense for Honda to keep him. All it takes is for Marquez’ luck to run out pushing too hard and a couple crunched wrist bones or vertebrae and Dani would suddenly be in a prime position to take his first title. Unless MM ends up in plaster however, I don’t see it happening.

  • crshnbrn

    @ sburns2421

    Rossi and Lorenzo will probably both need to be sporting plaster also.

  • Jw

    And Maverik..