MotoGP Rider Review: Dani Pedrosa
Rounding out the all-Spanish top three by coming in third for the Repsol Honda team was Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa was many people’s tip to win the Championship for last season and combined with his strong end to 2012, the departure of Casey Stoner and his new teammate being a rookie, the odds seemed to be on a battle between him and Lorenzo for the Championship again, but it wasn’t to be come the chequered flag in Valencia.
Pedrosa started his season in a solid fourth finish at the first race out in Qatar after having looked like a podium was possible early on, he was later beaten by the resurgent Valentino Rossi after suffering some late tyre problems. This also saw him finish the first race behind his teammate who was already showing signs of promise. The maiden voyage out to Texas saw Pedrosa qualify in second place, again behind his teammate who appeared to be adapting to the new bike well and despite taking an early lead due to the Spaniard’s traditional bullet starts, he was later passed by Marquez who took the gap to around 1.5 seconds to beat Pedrosa who was forced to settle for second in his first podium appearance of the season. The top three all shared their home race in Jerez next time out but from second on the grid, it would be Pedrosa who came out on top, taking his first win of the season and kick starting his title charge. He would also hold off Marquez by two and a half seconds as there were handbags flying behind him in last lap carnage. At this early stage in the season, Pedrosa was only three points off Marquez at the top of the standings. He would be the first rider to take back to back victories in 2013 and propelled himself to the top of the standings after another win in the tricky conditions at Le Mans making up good headway from a lowly qualifying of sixth, four races in and Pedrosa had won half of them, it was looking promising for the small Spaniard. Italy saw Pedrosa take his first pole of the season but he couldn’t convert that into a win as Lorenzo charged through following a first lap battle but he extended his lead over Marquez after he crashed out. Catalunya saw another start in pole position which must have left Pedrosa fancying his chances of taking a win in front of the Catalan supporters, but he was beaten into second place by Lorenzo again but still managed to finish a tenth in front of his teammate, showing that Pedrosa was the number one in the Honda team.
Assen saw Pedrosa qualify in fifth and initially show promise as he led in the early stages of the race, but late problems saw his pace deteriorate in the latter stages meaning he dropped back to fourth place, his first finish off the podium since Qatar at the start of the season. It would be a huge blow to his Championship challenge as in Germany, a track which Pedrosa had won at for the past three years, he was forced out due to a fracture of the left collarbone meaning he would miss his first race since the 2011 Dutch TT. He soldiered through the pain for the next round in Laguna Seca where he fought his way to fifth place, albeit nine seconds off the lead, his lowest finish since Valencia 2011. Indianapolis saw him return to the podium and finish up in second again but the charge of Marquez had already begun as he took full advantage of the injuries suffered and was leading the Championship now with another win in Brno to ensure this. Pedrosa was only three tenths off Marquez but the young Spaniard made his bike as wide as possible meaning there was no way through for Dani. It was another fifth place start in Silverstone but Pedrosa fought his way through the field to take third place, 1.5 seconds off Lorenzo who took the win and it was a repeated result next time out in San Marino, only this time Pedrosa was seven seconds off the lead. His already slim Championship hopes were practically killed off in Aragon after a collision with his teammate saw him out of the race only five laps in. Pedrosa wasn’t going out without a fight though as in Malaysia, he qualified in fifth again but stormed through to take his third win of the season. As opposed to half of the first four races, Pedrosa had now only won a fifth of the 15 so far this season and that would prove to be his last win of 2013.
Confusion in Phillip Island ensured that after being the first to pit, Pedrosa gained a position through the disqualification of Marquez after dropping a position to him for a pit infringement. Motegi saw Pedrosa forced to settle for third, four and a half seconds off the lead in the team’s home race and he rounded out the season with second in Valencia after a late pass on Marquez which brought Pedrosa home with a round figure of 300 points.
In an up and down season which almost reversed 2012 in the fact that Pedrosa started stronger than he finished, here are his top three moments of the season.
1. 2013 Spanish Grand Prix
After a difficult start to the season which saw his teammate put one over on him in both of the first two races, including taking the first win of the season for the team, it was time for Pedrosa to prove that he would not be easily beaten this season and did that in the best way possible as he returned to his home race. It would also be the home race for Marquez so he was also keen to impress but when Pedrosa started in second, he knew that there was every chance for his to win this race, and he utilised his fantastic starts to his advantage to take the lead and he would not plan of giving it up from them on in. Marquez was left fighting with Lorenzo meaning that after gaining a sole position on Lorenzo, Pedrosa could just pull away, which he did, eventually winning with a gap of 2.4 seconds. A brilliant recovery from him, showing that experience prevails in this instance.
2. 2013 French Grand Prix
On a high from his first win of the season in Jerez last time out, Pedrosa was looking to repeat that result in Le Mans but didn’t make it easy for himself after qualifying down in sixth. Marquez on pole would also not have pleased him but Pedrosa took the fight to the front and won it. With another bullet start, Pedrosa was already up to fourth on lap one, passing Bradl and Crutchlow in the process and two laps later, he would find himself ahead of Lorenzo. From then on, there was only one man standing in his way and that was the unexpected leading Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso. Pedrosa managed to pass him on lap five but for the next nine laps the two would continue to swap positions until the conditions had improved so much that the Ducati just couldn’t compete with the Honda on pace alone. It was just about consistency from then on and even taking a fastest lap from then on, Pedrosa comfortably came home to take his second win of the season.
3. 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix
It would be 11 races later on from his triumph in Le Mans to see Pedrosa return to the centre of the podium for one last time in 2013 but he would again not make things easy for himself. After starting down in fifth, Pedrosa would have been relying on his lightning fast starts to move him further up the order and once again, they did not disappoint as come the end of lap one, he had gotten ahead of Marquez, Rossi and Crutchlow with only the man who started fourth, Lorenzo, ahead of him. It would take until lap five for Pedrosa to finally find a way past Lorenzo and from then on, it was no looking back for him as he cruised to victory, just under three seconds ahead of Marquez. More of a consolation victory for Pedrosa but they all count.
Pedrosa’s targets from last season were:
Win the World Championship. FAILED
Finish on the podium in every Grand Prix he finishes. FAILED
With neither target completed, here are his targets for next season:
Beat Marquez in the Championship. Nobody likes being beaten by their teammate and it must be even worse when you’ve been tipped for the title, a realistic feat and then injury strikes midseason and you’re beaten by a rookie. Pedrosa had been ahead of Marquez in the Championship but his season was dealt a cruel sudden blow in Germany and that allowed Marquez to seize the initiative in the points and finish ahead of Pedrosa, next season, Pedrosa must set the record straight and show Marquez that he isn’t a pushover, coming out fighting to take the win in their intra-team battle.
Take five wins in the season. This season, two wins from four races looked like he had laid down the marker of potentially dominating, only to then have that potential of numerous more race wins taken away from him. It was only at Malaysia that he managed to take another win which only brought his tally to three for the season, a drop of four on 2012. Next season, what he needs to do is raise his win stakes with a couple more to take at least five wins, or more, which would set his Championship fight in the right direction, but that could be even more difficult next season as Rossi could be back on point to add another challenger to the lead battle, but it’s entirely possible for Pedrosa to do it.
Dani Pedrosa- 8 ½/10
It was an almost flawless start to the season, five podiums in the first six races and an early Championship lead. But an injury set him back which was not his fault and at that point, Marquez had already leap frogged him in the title race and there was no way back for Pedrosa. Still, a very solid season but a return to the injury bed with his 12th MotoGP related injury.
By Daniel Takyi - MotoGP Correspondent for RTR Sports Pictures from the web