From the Blog

Farewell, Dani

photo courtesy of Bikerepublic.com

The news that Honda’s second favourite son is retiring from full-time racing is not new. Since the middle of the year (probably earlier, actually), speculation has been rife that Dani and HRC would part company at the end of 2018. However, the reasons behind the move and its eventual revelation were both unclear until right at the last minute when Dani announced that he was done with racing altogether. There was never going to be room for Dani once HRC’s signing of Jorge Lorenzo was announced (another example of Honda’s utter lack of loyalty to their riders, a characteristic that goes all the way back to the Hailwood days in the 1960’s) so the questions from then on basically centred around what Dani would be doing in 2019.

Like many, I got it completely wrong. I fully expected him to be signed by the PETRONAS outfit to lead their new MotoGp effort providing experience and leadership to the new kid on the block, Franco Morbidelli. After all, there just weren’t any top line seats left by the time the Lorenzo announcement came and it seemed that Dani would be a good fit at the new team.

How wrong could we be. After a lack-lustre season by his elevated standards, and,after several false starts at staging a press conference on the subject, Dani announced that he wasn’t going anywhere except home. As an aside, I still feel that PETRONAS missed the boat badly here and that they will struggle with two very inexperienced riders both trying to find their feet in the rarefied atmosphere of MotoGp (and, yes, I know, Morbidelli has had a season in MotoGp already)

As so often happens, Dani’s announcement has sparked an upsurge in his on-track performances but it is clear that the Dani we are seeing is not the Dani we once knew; we know it and, plainly, so does he. He just doesn’t want to RACE any more. This has become even more clear with his subsequent announcement that he has signed with KTM as a test rider ONLY.

So, as we look towards saying farewell to the Little Samurai, let’s take a look at why he is still one of the most highly respected riders in the paddock.

Once again I have lifted his stats from the MotoGp web site and they show just what a great rider Dani is. Three World Championships in the lower classes, 31 wins in the top class, 112 podiums in MotoGp, (yes, you read that right) 21 Poles and 44 fastest laps! Almost any racing rider in the world today would give his right arm for stat like that.

So, where have the wheels fallen off the Dani Pedrosa machine? It’s pretty simple, really. The change to the Michelin control tyre has been the single most telling factor in the downturn of his performances. And it is Dani’s weight (or lack of it) that has been the reason why he has not been able to get the control Michelin to work. He is simply too light to work the front tyre hard enough to get the required amount of heat into it. 51kgs is ridiculously light when other, heavier, riders can heat up the front and then trust it to stick in the corners.

After a rocky start to his MotoGp career with his unfortunate take-out of Nicky Hayden at Estoril in 2006 (for which some American fans have still not forgiven him 🙂 ) Dani worked hard to justify the team’s confidence in him and win the fans’ approval. Indeed, this year will probably be the first year of his MotoGp career that he hasn’t won at least one GP.

I’ve always liked Dani. His work ethic is beyond question, his loyalty to the team and to the sponsor has been 100% and he has been the perfect wingman to his various team leaders. He has never complained about not being the #1 at Honda (which he easily could have done) ad he has never blamed either his machine or others for his failure to win. The MotoGp paddock will be the poorer for not having his regular presence and everyone will wish him a happy retirement.

Farewell, Dani