In 2006, Pedrosa came to MotoGP as a flag-bearer from a generation of riders who were called upon to write the next chapter in motorcycling history. Stoner, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Dani himself had to unseat Rossi, Capirossi, Gibernau and other veterans from the glories of the podium. World champion in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and protagonist of heroics like winning his first outing on the 250cc after a serious injury incurred after he conquered the 125cc title placed him as the most likely successor to Valentino. In his first race in MotoGP, Dani made a spectacular comeback, overtaking the usual protagonists of the category like they were newbies. He was very close to the win, but a second place seemed more than reasonable on the day of his debut, and he was satisfied with finishing behind Capirossi.
In 2006, Pedrosa came to MotoGP as a flag-bearer from a generation of riders who were called upon to write the next chapter in motorcycling history.
That great premiere put him among the candidates for the title, which was only his first season class. He won his first victory in his fourth race after scoring his first pole and clocking the fastest lap of the race. The surprise of seeing the rookie in the top positions became the norm, as well as a serious possibility for the title that only vanished in the last four races, especially the penultimate, where he crashed and took out his teammate who was leading the Championship. That raised a huge controversy within the Repsol Team, but was fortunately not bigger because Hayden ended winning the title. 2007 was the year of one of the most successful teams ever, the one comprised of Stoner, Ducati and Bridgestone. Even though Dani finished runner-up, it was not until the following year that he really fought for the title.
2008, the first lost dream
After the first nine races, Dani led the Championship ahead of Rossi and Stoner. Two convincing victories, a total of 8 podiums and a fourth place as his worst result comprised the powerful trajectory with which he came to Sachsenring, one of his favorite circuits and where he had won the previous year. The race started under a torrential rain. On the first lap, Pedrosa took 2 seconds off his rivals, a difference that continued to increase at a dizzying pace until at the start of lap 6, when he enjoyed a more than comfortable advantage until he fell at the end of the finish line after just touching the front brake. The asphalt was like ice and Dani slid to the gravel at high speed, violently striking his left hand. His wrist needed surgery and in less than a week he was back on his Honda to contest at Laguna Seca, the worst possible place to arrive with an injury. His physical situation overtook his will and he was unable to take part in the GP. With two consecutive DNFs and a very close championship, Dani saw how conquest in MotoGP was fleeting.
2010, the comeback interrupted
The injuries from 2009 set up the 2010 season before the start of the races, which provoked a change in strategy: Avoid unnecessary risks in the first half of the championship, then move to attack in the second half. The plan went accordingly, only they didn’t count on the presence of Lorenzo who only finished with victories and second places. When Dani went into the attack phase of the season Jorge was far ahead, but with Honda’s good results and the pressure felt by Yamaha the comeback seemed plausible. The three races in Asia should have set the pace, but once again, bad luck fell upon Pedrosa’s bike. In practice for the Japanese GP he crashed violently due to a mechanical failure … and once again Dani returned to the operating room.
2012, Champion numbers
2010 would have been a great year had it not been for injuries, so the approach for 2011 was the same. Dani was third in Qatar, second in Spain and first in Portugal, a beginning that set him up to the fight for the title, until in France everything was cut short. Simoncelli made an improbable pass that caused Dani to crash and he suffered a new injury. For the umpteenth time it was time to watch the races from the hospital.
If motorcycling owes Pedrosa a MotoGP title, without doubt it would be the one from 2012, Dani’s best year in the top class. That season #26 had a total of 7 wins, more than the Champion, and a total of 332 points (Only 10 riders in all history have been champions with more points than Dani had in 2012). It was his year; everything was going well until several incidents at the San Marino GP truncated his path. Pedrosa started from pole. Just as the race was about to start, Abraham had a problem that stopped the race, reactivating the entire pre-start process.
Dani will go down in history as a great rider plagued by constant injuries that affected his time in MotoGP.
When again they were preparing to take the warm-up lap, the Honda mechanics were faced with an unusual problem: the front wheel was blocked and they could not remove the tire warmer. This forced them to take the bike back to the box where the problem was solved, but then Dani could not return to his privileged position on the grid, and he started from the last grid position. Dani’s comeback was meteoric. In less than one lap he moved up 10 positions. He was already 11th when a careless Barbera took him out. Once again, a reckless rider affected not only that race, but chance for the Championship. Despite this, Pedrosa continued to fight for the title. He won the next three races, but in the fourth and penultimate race while in the lead, he crashed and handed the title to Lorenzo.
In 2013 Dani returned to lead the Championship, but once again at the German track the same one where he won six times, high jacked his dream of the title for the second time. In Sunday’s warm up, the Honda catapulted him in a highside and he suffered yet another new injury that divided the season into ‘before’ and ‘after’.
Dani will go down in history as a great rider plagued by constant injuries that affected his time in MotoGP. With 31 victories in the class, he is the rider with the most wins to not become Champion. To find the next rider on the list, we have to go down to the 13 races that Biaggi and Mamola won. Dani’s dream for the title has vanished, but he will always be remembered as a clean rider who, when everything was in place, was invincible.