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  • MotoringPulse

Why Do We Care About a Guy With Zero MotoGP Titles?

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

54 wins, 153 podiums and 3 World Championships

Dani Pedrosa entered MotoGP in 2006 as a factory HRC rider after achieving three successive world titles - 1 for 125cc and 2 for 250cc. By the end of that season, he had earned 2 wins, 2 second places, 4 third places and a top 5 rank in the championship that rightfully made him the Rookie Of The Year. He was the undeniable rising star and had future MotoGP world champion written all over him. At that time, the thought of him never winning a GP championship would have seemed unbelievable even to entertain. And now that the 2018 season is done and gone, it will remain unbelievable to realize that Dani Pedrosa’s championship bag didn’t get any heavier, sadly.

This is Dani Pedrosa’s MotoGP journey, more or less.

But saying just this much is like telling a person, who has little interest in motorcycle racing, about who Dani Pedrosa is, in short. His story is deeper and his will stronger, much stronger, than his appearance likely suggests. For everyone else who follow the sport, many of whom would have probably got tired by now of hearing Dani Pedrosa is the greatest motorcycle racer to have not won a single GP title, will have to calm down. Because this blabber is neither going away nor is it false. It is, in fact, the true version of Dani Pedrosa’s racing career.

Because numbers tell the story, but they don’t tell it accurately enough.

Since 2006, Pedrosa has won at least 1 race every year till 2017, a feat no other GP racer, regardless of his success, has ever managed to do so far. None. Not for this long at least. And though Pedrosa ended his racing career with a winless 2018, his overall performances are a proof of his remarkable consistency, spanning over 12 years, that often remain understated and forgotten.

But regardless of this unique record, it can’t be ignored that Pedrosa hasn’t won a single GP title and he never will. Considering this, why is he still so special? Why do we hold him with such high regard indeed? So many MotoGP racers have come and gone. Their greatness, or lack of it, is usually measured by the number of premiere class titles they’d have won. Pedrosa isn’t among them.

So, what really happened to him?

For a long time, Dani Pedrosa has been the most compact rider in MotoGP. Standing at 5.2 feet and weighing at 51 kg, he looks more like a grownup boy than a man. And while all GP racers have to keep their weight in check, Pedrosa is the lightest by far. Visualise him and you’ll begin to get surprised by what he has been doing all these years on one of the quickest and the fastest motorcycles on the planet. A kind of motorcycle which is usually out of the skillset anybody who is not a GP racer. Not to mention that with more than 250 horsepower and the weight that is well below of a production Superbike, a MotoGP bike is altogether a different machine to handle, or manhandle! Understanding just this much would make anyone realise what a special rider Dani Pedrosa has been.

It isn’t difficult to figure out that MotoGP is the toughest class in the series and one of the toughest among all forms of motorcycle racing. It isn’t called the pinnacle of bike racing for nothing. Even a racer who is regularly last to qualify and finish a GP race is one of the best racers in the world as far as pure skill-level is concerned. And the physical strength and the stamina are two of the key components that go a long way in determining a racer’s results and longevity in the sport. People who have been watching MotoGP long enough will have understood by now that it is one of the most physically demanding sports. Especially from a television screen, it is apparently not easy to realise how much effort it takes, physically and mentally, to go around a racing circuit at speeds that are nothing less than life threatening. MotoGP is the kind of a sport which requires the sportsman to be at the pinnacle of his physical and mental health. This has only become truer in modern-day motorcycle racing.

A MotoGP racer can discharge up to 2 litres of sweat by the time a race ends, which usually lasts for about 45 minutes. And this 2 litres figure is not some rarity, it can happen in places with higher temperatures or places with high humidity. Let’s also not forget that some amount of body weight can also be lost when an athlete sweats so much in such a short time.

Regular dogfights or tight battles with other riders increase the intensity of a race even further. Imagine what all this can do to a person who already weighs 51 kg irrespective of his training and preparedness. There’s no doubt why other racers who race against Pedrosa, and anybody else associated with the sport in some way or the other, is so full of admiration for him. He is often lovingly called the 'Little Samurai'. Irrespective of his talents though, it is strongly believed that his small physical dimensions have restricted him from putting in that last bit against his rivals which would have earned him at least 1 GP title in his otherwise remarkable career. This is also the reason why he has been hurt so much in these last 12 years. Accidents are a natural part of a sport like motorcycle racing and Pedrosa has had a good amount of them. That he has always come back from his injuries is a testament to his strength and determination.

It is pointless to even think that the top class has proved to be a bit too challenging for Pedrosa. Because so many racers retire out of the sport without a title or without even experiencing how it feels to stand on a podium at that level. Pedrosa has climbed on the top step of the podium for 12 years straight in MotoGP. Make of that what you will.

The genius of Dani Pedrosa is nothing less than extraordinary. The controversial ‘Alien’ status fits him rightfully.

Then there’s the other aspect - his nature and sportsmanship. Dani Pedrosa is possibly the politest GP racer on the grid who is seldom political. Not in the literal sense of speaking, but in terms of overall behaviour and the way he goes about with his rivals and his team. While Pedrosa can be ferocious on track, he comes across as one of the most generous persons otherwise. In every conceivable way, Dani Pedrosa is a great Ambassador of MotoGP.

Since his arrival in the premiere class, Pedrosa has ridden for HRC as one of its factory riders. Nicky Hayden, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso have been his teammates. Marc Marquez is the last guy he rode with and each one of them have had high regards for Dani. Racing at the top level aside, it is also extremely difficult to be on good terms with your teammate especially when you’re considered one of the top riders riding for one of the top teams. Because competition is at the highest level and it starts from right within the team. The sense of competition among teammates is second to no other rider on a racetrack. Nobody intends or wishes to be a lesser rider in a team. The first competitor of any rider is his teammate and that is a fantastically tricky situation to be in. But most GP riders will tell you that it doesn’t matter to them. The belief is that bike-development, as teammates, and rivalry on track can go simultaneously. Despite of all this, Dani Pedrosa has been considered as a very likeable teammate.

For HRC, Dani has been an undeniable asset whose inputs on bike-development have proven to be consistently invaluable. It would be quite safe to assume that as far as physicality is concerned, Dani has had to work the hardest in order to handle his GP bike. Also consider the fact that Honda’s RCV has not always been the easiest motorcycle on the grid, which was the case in 2018 as well. In that sense, his inputs can often be unique and helpful in unconventional ways that might not be instantly realised by his team and his teammate.

Regardless of his statistics in MotoGP, there was a belief in the paddock that Pedrosa could still give his best to the sport and that he could still earn a GP title. But this will remain an unfulfilled wish, now and forever, as Pedrosa has retired from the sport. His original retirement announcement at Silverstone race weekend was an emotional affair. The announcement itself wasn’t entirely surprising, it was a situation which we knew could happen but we naturally didn’t want it to. Pedrosa has performed quite consistently all these years, and so the possibility of him getting a world title in the future wasn’t really out of consideration. Even if it was only going to get more difficult. Perhaps a different motorcycle would have suited him better? Seeing Dani on a Yamaha was an interesting possibility many people talked about. But the opportunity to switch to another factory team wasn’t really there.

Nevertheless, few racers as humble, polite, talented, having a genuinely likeable character who haven’t won a single title, are looked at with such high regard as Dani Pedrosa. He’s a fantastic role model. The fact that he is regularly counted among the likes of Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo is a testament to his talent. With a career full of 54 wins, 153 podiums, 49 pole positions, 64 race fastest laps and 3 world titles, Dani Pedrosa can retire a content man.

He was dewy-eyed while announcing his retirement, everybody could see it and feel it. He seemed prepared to move on though, “I have different priorities in life now”. And that is perfectly alright. The man should be happy, and it seems Dani Pedrosa is, “I fulfilled my dream of becoming a racer and this is something I didn’t expect as a kid watching the riders on TV”.

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