Last weekend in Valencia, MotoGP bade farewell to Dani Pedrosa, a rider one considered to be the only one able to dethrone Valentino Rossi, and the greatest ever to never win a premier class title.
Pedrosa made his world championship debut in 2001 in the 125cc class after competing in the Movistar Activa Cup and with Dorna’s consent.
After becoming 125cc champion in 2003, and after getting the 250cc title in 2004 and in 2005, Honda gave him the opportunity to be the leader of a project that aimed to give the crown to the Japanese manufacturer again.
That was a hard era for Honda, as it didn’t manage to find the formula to recover from the trauma of losing Rossi, who had joined Yamaha in 2004 after feeling undervalued by HRC.
Teammate Nicky Hayden was paradoxically the man who clinched the title the same year that Pedrosa was starting his adventure in the premier category, benefitting when Dani suffered a knee injury after a crash at Sepang.
The Spaniard was the spearhead of a new generation of riders who arrived at the highest level to put an end to the era of Rossi’s unchallenged dominance.
Riders like Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and later Marc Marquez joined the ranks of MotoGP's ‘aliens’ after Pedrosa. But while they all won titles, Dani’s big moment never quite arrived.
That hasn't stopped his talent from being recognised, and ahead of his MotoGP farewell race at Valencia, he was named a MotoGP Legend, becoming the 28th member of that elite club.
Pedrosa’s statistics are the best evidence of his talent: he sits eighth in the all-time race winners' list in 500cc/MotoGP, tied with four-time champion Eddie Lawson.
His 31 victories make him the rider without a MotoGP title that has stood on the top step of the podium the most times, ahead of such greats as Kevin Schwantz (25), Wayne Rainey (22) or Kenny Roberts Sr (22).
Pedrosa ended his career as a race rider last Sunday in Valencia, his best track, the place where he has got the most victories (seven times across all categories).
Many people will miss his pure and clean riding style, others won't. But in any event, the Spaniard will be remembered as the last uncrowned king. There are few champions as admired and respected as him.
Vito Ippolito, FIM President, Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team, Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO Dorna Sports
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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- Formula 1