In our previous installment about “The New Pedrosa” published 24 hours ago, the Spanish rider explained the difficulties he and the rest of the HRC riders have faced during the preseason, which characteristics revolutionary riders like Stoner, Marquez or himself normally have and also about his fidelity to Honda along all his racing years. In this second part you will find a much more inside looking Pedrosa who explains about his not always easy relationship with fans and journalists in the past, about his expectations for the racing season that will start next weekend and the radical changes he has done for 2017… I think what you are going to read is very, very interesting.
For this season, Dani Pedrosa has made many changes to his environment. I would say he has incited a revolution in his approach to racing. A new manager, new crew chief, new mechanics, new assistant and the presence of Sete Gibernau in the garage as a track consultant. It’s obvious that Pedrosa wants to try a different approach to what he has been doing until now.
“The main reason for all these changes is because you realize that through experiences and over time things change and you have to reinvent yourself. You have to find a way to adapt to the times, either with your riding and also outside of it. It is all very well to train, to prepare physically, but if you don’t cover the other parts, you’ll be lacking somewhere. So one of the important points is to find those other areas that you haven’t covered as much, and I’m now looking for reinvention in that area. I am happy with the changes I’ve made.”
“I’m going back to basics, which is to go to the races and get on a motorcycle”, Dani Pedrosa
“You look at everything,” answers Dani when asked if the search for motivation is behind this “new life”. “Experience gives you that ability to see where you are not doing so well, or maybe there is some point that is not so balanced and you try to balance things. To concentrate a lot on being more focused on the bike, to enjoy more and not be distracted with other things. Obviously, now isn’t like it was when I was young, because I have learned many things that now I pay attention to. But in the end, I’m going back to basics, which is to go to the races and get on a motorcycle, because you have to be as focused as possible.”
Having a new Italian mechanical chief who comes from Ducati, there is a process that the rider and technician have to go through. It’s easy to understand: both have to realize if the meaning of a sentence is the same for both. Does “the bike is not turning” mean the same for a Honda rider as Pedrosa then for a former Ducati engineer? There is an inevitable process of creating a common language. “Many times, he tells me something and I stare at him, thinking if what he said means what I think, and that’s when you ask another question: Did you say this to me? I speak a little Italian, but specifically not at that level, there are words that I don’t have down so well. But it’s not a big problem, maybe in the past, yes, I could say it was. Maybe I didn’t know everything, but now, with today’s experience, I would say: Wait, tell me again I didn’t understand.”
“There have been times when, despite being in the best situation, with a winning team, living my dream from a childhood… I had not that much fun”, Dani Pedrosa
When I interview veteran riders like Pedrosa, there is one question I always ask. It’s about their level of racing enthusiasm. Racing at the MotoGP level is extremely demanding and I always think that at a certain point the fun about going to race—which is what moved all these guys at one point—turns into a job. “Man, there have been times when I have not had that much fun. There have been times when, despite being in the best situation, with a winning team, living my dream from a childhood…No, it’s not always easy to find happiness. We’ve had injuries, times when things haven’t worked, also personal things…You can’t separate one thing from another. Not all moments are the happiest in spite of living your dream life.”
The last point in my conversation with Dani I intentionally left for the end because, let’s just say that it could generate some “discomfort”. It was regarding his attitude towards the fans, the public and the journalists. I reminded him that in the past I was convinced that Pedrosa’s ideal GP was one without spectators and obviously without journalists. I have to say that this sour attitude has changed a lot…for the better. Dani accepted the criticism with a smile.
“I didn’t manage very well when there were many people around; I come from a small town where I wasn’t used to entering a room and having everyone look at me”, Dani Pedrosa.
“In the past, my goal was to be able to do my best and for that I needed a very high level of concentration. If you add my shyness to that, and at my age at the time…I didn’t manage very well when there were many people around and everyone wanted to touch me or put their arms around me to take a photo.” Dani thought for a few moments and added: “I come from a small town where I wasn’t used to entering a room and having everyone look at me. My personality was not to draw too much attention to myself and I suppose the way I carried myself, even if it conveys your attitude better than what you say, wasn’t with that intention. I wanted to be peaceful without those things affecting me. It was a big shock to me, and I wasn’t very comfortable. Today, because of my experience I see it differently. I have realized that I also was once a child, I realize what I mean for the people who follow me, that many people look at me on TV and what it means for them take a photo with me. Realizing all that changes you. It gives you a different perspective; you no longer see it as something that distances you from your safe zone.”
Ok, if you have been reading up to this point, you can see that Pedrosa is entering the 2017 season with a different perspective. Experience allows him to keep his feet on the ground. No big words, no loud announcements. “This year the clear objective is to find the best of me in everything, in my expectations, in motivation, together with my experience, with the team…putting this together is going to be the most difficult, which is what I’m working on. This is my goal. Then, once I have all this, the numerical result to which it takes me, we’ll see.”
“I know I have been good up to this point; this is what is motivating me”, Dani Pedrosa
I had this chat with Dani on the second morning of the Qatar test. 24 hours later Pedrosa finished third in the last preseason test, confirming what his team-mate Marquez had warned about just a few days before: Watch out for Dani, I’m in the box and I know how he’s working…and bang! there was the “forgotten” second rider of the HRC team. “I work mainly on finding my best. The result I’m able to obtain will be hard to know now, but I’m excited, happy to be doing this, because it motivates me to be able to say: I know I have been good up to this point, but I think I can be good to this other point, and I’m going to look for that. This is what is motivating me.”