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MotoGP rookie Dani Pedrosa ready for premier class challenge

MotoGP rookie Dani Pedrosa ready for premier class challenge

MotoGP rookie Dani Pedrosa ready for premier class challenge

World 125 Champion in 2003; World 250 Champion in both 2004 and 2005. With this track record, 20-year-old Dani Pedrosa is possibly facing his greatest challenge yet in MotoGP. He has to get used to a new bike, a weapon with more than 200 hp and much heavier than his former Honda RS250RW, prior to standing a chance at being competitive in the highest category.

Dani, what is your opinion of these three days of training in Sepang?

"It's been positive, and I've noticed an improvement over the last sessions, basically because I've put in a lot of laps. We've got a bit more experience now; we know the bike a bit better, and how the changes are going to affect this category. I went out with a qualifying tyre - it's the first time I've tried out one of these. I still have to get used to its performance, so I didn't get the most out of it. But I did do my best time with it."

How did you feel physically at the end of the three days, getting back in the saddle after the Christmas break?

"To tell you the truth I'm a bit tired. Everything is so demanding and I'm not fully ready for it. I've got blisters on my hands and that makes riding difficult. But I've improved over last November and hope to continue. Now I've got a few days to relax until getting back to work in Australia."

Honda is going to great lengths to provide you with a bike that you're comfortable riding. Are you satisfied with what you've achieved so far?

"Yes, I'm very happy. I've seen how everyone is reacting, from the mechanics to the engineers. The teamwork is great and I've never been backed by a factory this dedicated to a project like now. Everyone is doing more than their best."

The objective of these practice sessions wasn't to get good times, but you have. Does that surprise you?

"I'm satisfied with the way we've been improving every day. I'm happy about the rest, but I don't think that's what's most important."

You said that what you basically wanted to do was chalk up laps, get used to the new bike, adjust it to your riding style and avoid fiddling with tyres, settings and electronics. What has been the hardest to get used to?

"I've improved a bit with the clutch, but I'm having trouble turning, shifting weight, positioning the bike, controlling skidding and so on. I've ridden with both new and used tyres. The more worn out the tyre, the more tired I get because I'm making more effort on the bike. The qualifying tyre was completely different, but hard to explain. It grips a lot better, and I was even a bit afraid of falling, so at least I know what that feels like."

During the three days in Sepang you shared the track with some of the best riders in the category. What impressed you the most seeing how they ride the MotoGP up close?

"I've only coincided with Hayden for a few laps and saw the rest from a distance. It's been a good experience, because it's given me the chance to see some different styles and modify the way I take the curves."

Did you compare notes with team mate Nicky Hayden?

"No, the truth is we both concentrated on doing our own thing."

Did you know that some of your rivals see you as a serious contender?

"I think they're exaggerating, because I'm still not ready yet. I still have a lot to learn. The more I'm in, the more things I see that influence the outcome of a race. For the moment it's still out of my reach."

From what you've seen until now, who do you think will give Rossi a run for his money this year?

"For the moment it looks like Ducati is doing well, and maybe Hayden, Melandri and Edwards are on the level. But one thing is the pre-season and another is the race, so we'll see what happens when the Grand Prix rolls around."

Dani Pedrosa is due to start testing in Philip Island, along with many other MotoGP riders, this coming week.

MotoGP, 2006, Dani Pedrosa

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