After the first race of the season in Qatar, motogp.com caught up with Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa ahead of his 201st MotoGP™ race – with the paddock next headed for Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina. First up, it’s the incredible preseason pace shown by the factory-supported Hondas of Pedrosa, teammate Marc Marquez and LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow.
“We had a great preseason,” agrees the three-time World Champion. “Honda, the team and the riders have done a lot of work, and good work. I think all the teams and bikes have had a good preseason, and that evens things out a lot.”
That it does, with everything continuing to get closer and closer. But during that preseason, there was also another key headline at Repsol Honda – the arrival of Alberto Puig as Team Manager. Puig, a former rider and renowned talent scout, also played a big role in Pedrosa’s rise to the premier class.
“We know each other well,” the number 26 affirms, playing down the history somewhat. “Life is made of chapters, and I’ve got good memories of my chapter with Alberto. Now we’re starting a new one in which our paths have crossed again – and with the same common goal again.” That goal is a simple one: “Winning.”
Something the ‘Little Samurai’ knows well. Pedrosa has the most victories with Honda – 54 – and has spent his premier class career with the marque from day one, about which he says simply, “it’s an honour to be part of the Honda family and hopefully I’ll end my career winning with Honda.” And in terms of the title? Experience breeds wisdom: “Time will tell. I don’t like conjecture; I prefer talking about what’s done rather than what could be.”
Returning, then, to what’s done, there’s the race in Qatar to debrief. Pedrosa repeats what he said at the beginning of the season – that the year will be characterised by the smaller details – and explains that a lack of rear grip was the missing detail for him in the desert.
It’s not that simple, however. After a crash at the venue before the season began, the Spaniard is also coming back from having injured his left hand. “It’s getting better. It’s a question of time. The more I can leave it to relax and recuperate, the better.”
With two free weekends in between the first race and the second, the calendar at least is kind in that respect. It’s also kind after the more difficult venue of Losail as three good venues for the Spaniard appear on the horizon: Argentina, Texas and Jerez – the latter the scene of a stunning win in 2017.
For Pedrosa, there have been struggles, injuries and a bumpier road to the top than some have endured, but 200 MotoGP™ races in, the number 26 remains a winner every year since his debut. Will Argentina see him stock up that stat early this season?