After breaking his wrist in the Argentina GP, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) wasn't even sure if he'd be able to make the race after his first forays on Friday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, but the three-time World Champion pulled off one of the most incredible rides in recent history once the lights went out on Sunday - and before.
Beginning with a final push in FP2 to get him into provisional Q2 should the rain come, the number 26 did it again on Saturday to make it through a dry FP3 in the top ten - and then qualified in P9. From there, he got in the battle for fifth before bringing it home in seventh on Sunday.
The ride is another in a line of recent heroics in Grand Prix racing, with one such example the stunner from Jorge Lorenzo at the TT Circuit Assen in 2013. After breaking his collarbone on Thursday, the ‘Spartan’ got the bit between his teeth and rode to fifth on Sunday. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is another; the ‘Doctor’ breaking his leg whilst training before Misano and riding to fifth only a few weeks later at MotorLand Aragon last season.
Pedrosa is no stranger to it either. The Spaniard even began his rookie 250cc season in 2004 after having broken both his ankles in a crash at Phillip Island the year before, a week after taking the 125 crown. He nevertheless took the 250 crown on first attempt and defended it.
Despite a number of high profile injuries in his MotoGP™ career since – from broken collarbones to severe arm pump issues that endangered his ability to race long term – the number 26 is still the only man to have won at least one Grand Prix every season for 16 years, and is the rider second on the all-time podium list, behind only Valentino Rossi.
But back from the history gone, let’s return to the history made as a tired Pedrosa debriefs a tough day in Texas.
“I’m very tired, it was tough. A tough time on the track and a tough weekend but I’m more than satisfied with the outcome,” begins Pedrosa. “I didn’t even expect to be riding, mainly because this track is super physical. You need to ride physically here to ride well, some tracks you can handle a bit better with less effort, but here you need it. So I’m really satisfied and I want to thank all the people who’ve helped me, Dr Xavier Mir and all the people around me that have helped me to get this result. It’s also the best way to thank my fans for all the messages and support I received.”
Pedrosa will now have 15 days to recover further, before it’s time to get back on track at Jerez. The last winner there? Pedrosa, in the 3000th Grand Prix race in history.