At the young age of 20, the Repsol rider continues demolishing statistics. Today Dani ratified the 250cc World Champion title.
2005 has been a season of confirmation for Dani Pedrosa. In his second season in the 250cc class, the tiny rider from Castellar del Vallés (Barcelona) has managed to silence many voices and respond they best way he can: winning. Despite the injury on his right shoulder, that seemed to jeopardise his chances for the title in the last races, Pedrosa today gave a virtuoso demonstration, clinching his second consecutive 250cc World Championship title. Before, Pedrosa had won the 125cc title in 2003, with two races left for the end of the season. His figures this season say it all: four pole positions, eleven front row starts, eight fastest laps, six victories, six podium finishes and 264 points. Minutes after getting off the podium, still soaked with champagne and with the winner's trophy of the Australian Grand Prix in his hands, Dani Pedrosa assessed the race in Phillip Island and the 2005 season.
Your options to take the title in Australia depended on Stoner only scoring one point and you winning. Did you really think that you were going to win?
We've always trusted in our chances, although many others did not. Not many people expected it, only us, and that says a lot about what is happening around us. Many things have been said these days, both in the media and my rivals as well. But we focussed on working and not doing strange things. When you focus the results are there. And it was here, on this track, and it's been a great satisfaction. I haven't been scared at any time, although after Qatar I really thought that the championship was getting more and more complicated, because the recovery was being very slow. I hadn't improved in three weeks and I didn't know how long it would take. There were two weeks left for the Australian Grand Prix, which is per se difficult for me, and I didn't know what was going to happen. The practice sessions were rather average, but this morning I woke up with my mind made up to win the race. I knew that everything would be different than on Friday or Saturday, and so it's been."
How would you define the race you did in Phillip Island?
"It's been an intelligent and conservative race"
Which had been your plans?
"First of all to make a good start and then assess the situation. Stoner crashed at an early stage and De Angelis hit against him. Although he managed to avoid crashing, the bike broke, so there were two rivals less. Lorenzo, Porto and I, who were lapping further in the back, saw it and were able to avoid them. Porto was lapping very fast, so I decided to follow him and we opened a considerable gap leaving the rest behind. From then on I began to study him. I didn't try anything and I think it became a rather calm race for both of us. I stayed behind him because he had a better pace than me. Porto was very fast in the corners, but my bike was working very well too, so I thought about getting his slipstream at the end of the race. If I managed to overtake him, it would be great, but if I didn't, second wouldn't have been bad either; there was no need to take any unnecessary risks. Scared of not taking the slipstream well, I made a small mistake in the last corner. I knew that if I would stick to him exiting the corner I could overtake him, but I stuck too much and had to get off his slipstream earlier than expected. It was the first time of the race I crossed the finish line out of the slipstream and I noticed that the bike wasn't as fast as I thought. Fortunately and with the inertia I had I was able to overtake him by some thousands of a second."
During the last laps, your team showed you the "OK" board, saying that second place would be right. What was your reaction?
"I understood. It was logical, because it's better to score 20 points than loosing them all. It's a very demanding circuit with the tyres and they suffer a lot at the end of the race. The team saw me skidding a couple of times, so they thought it would be good to show me the OK board. They didn't want me to take any risk and I didn't, but I tried with the slipstream and it went well."
What was your first thought after crossing the finish line?
"Well... Oh my God, I can't believe it! It's Australia with all the memories it brings back to me, and personally the most difficult circuit of the whole championship. I crossed the finish line and I wasn't conscious about the fact that I had won the title until the first corner. It was then where I started to cry out of happiness and excitement. It's normal after so much suffering on the bike, in the garage, without being able to ride well these last weeks...."
Once everything is over, you've finally said that the shoulder injury is actually a fracture of the humerus head, why this excessive secrecy?
"I crashed in Japan because the bike seized. I hit my right shoulder and it hurt a lot. We thought that I had a muscle injury and when I got examined they said that there was nothing broken, but the pain was huge. I still don't know how I was able to finish that race. When we arrived in Malaysia we went immediately to do a magnetic resonance scanning that showed that there was a fracture in the humerus head, fortunately without displacement. That was the reason for so much pain. Only a few people knew about it: my doctors in Barcelona and only one member of the team. We didn't want to scare the others. We also didn't say anything just in case they wouldn't let us ride, and also to avoid the other riders make use of the situation. More than the pain, the problem was that I wasn't able to ride well, because I wasn't able to sit comfortably on the bike. I had to be in a very rigid position, very centred, I couldn't carry weights and I wasn't able to change them, I had to find a new set-up... I've been riding with two fingers, I couldn't make the bike turn well and if I tried to push harder it skidded in the front. I crashed in Malaysia and the race in Qatar wasn't good either, I almost crashed more than once although I managed to finish fourth."
Pressure is inevitable when you're going for the title. Have you felt under more pressure than ever in these last races?
"The circumstances were difficult and I had to stand the pressure of not being able to be in the front. I resisted to it and that's why I crashed in Malaysia, but I learned the lesson and in Qatar, seeing that I wasn't able to do it either, I kept on the bike the best I could. I lost a lot of points and that's when Stoner got more confidence. On this circuit, they were all riding faster than me. It's a circuit I've never liked much, I've always had trouble here, but I was much focussed today and I knew how to play my cards."
You had a frightening accident in 2003 in Phillip Island and you had never been able to get on the podium. Is it a good feeling to win the title here? Will it change your feelings towards the circuit?
"It obviously feels much better. Moreover, there are two races left and we got rid of the pressure of fighting for the title, because it seemed that we were loosing control. I'm sure that now I will look kindlier at Phillip Island, and let's hope that we'll get better results here from now on."
In addition to the victory and the Championship title, today you've also brought the longed-for 600th victory for Honda- number 500 was taken by Mick Doohan- what does this figure tell you?
"It has obviously made me very happy as well, but if it wouldn't have been for all the other riders who took the previous victories I wouldn't have taken number 600. So I think that it just happened by chance, it's not really a merit. I'm really happy for Honda, because I've always been a Honda rider."
Has this year been more complicated than the previous ones?
"This year I started as the reigning champion. Many riders started saying many things, but for us, the only rider that really worried us was Porto. He's a rider who, can make things really difficult if he's in good shape. The others may be fast, but they don't really mark the difference. Porto has been having ups and downs and we've been opening a gap despite those two bad races, the one in Portugal due to the tyres and the one in China due to the water. The rest have all been quite good, even Donington including rain. Then came Japan and we started to loose points. But his year we had everything clear from the start, despite all that had been said since the winter tests. We have kept ourselves on our line throughout the year, without saying anything and looking for results on the track, and we got them."
What would be your assessment of 2005?
"Despite this parenthesis of the transoceanic tour, I think that it's been a very good year. We've achieved great results in a hard-fought season. We've had to fight hard in every race to get on the podium, there were many riders able to get there and even though we managed to clinch seven victories, as many as last year. Sure, we could have made some better races, especially in Motegi and Japan, but the others could have done as well. Deciding the championship in Australia has also been a great relief."
To whom would you like to dedicate the title?
"To the team, my people and the fans who also deserve it."
With the title already in your pocket, how do you look at next year?
"To tell you the truth I'm not thinking about next year yet. There are two races left and I've been so concentrated these last weeks that I haven't had time to think about it."
- Date of birth: September 29th, 1985
- Place of birth: Castellar del Vallés (Barcelona)
- Age: 20
- First race: 1996 Spanish Minibike Championship
- First Grand Prix: 2001 Japanese Grand Prix (125cc)
- First pole position: 2002 Japanese Grand Prix (125cc)
- First fastest lap: 2002 Pacific Grand Prix (125cc)
- First podium finish: 2001 Comunitat Valenciana Grand Prix (125cc)
- First victory: 2002 Dutch Grand Prix (125cc)
- Total Grand Prix: 76 (46 in 125cc and 30 in 250cc)
- Fastest laps: 18 (5 in 125cc and 13 in 250cc)
- Pole positions: 17 (9 in 125cc and 8 in 250cc)
- Podium finishes: 39 (17 in 125cc and 22 in 250cc)
- Victories: 22 (8 in 125cc and 14 in 250cc)
- 1997: 3rd Spanish Minibike Championship
- 1998: Spanish Minibike Champion
- 1999: 8th Movistar Activa Joven Cup Trophy (Honda RS 125)
- 2000: 4th Spanish 125 GP Championship (Honda RS 125)
- 2001: 8th 125 GP World Championship (Honda RS 125)
- 2002: 3rd 125 GP World Championship (Honda RS 125)
- 2003: 125cc World Champion (Honda RS 125)
- 2004: 250cc World Champion (Honda RSW 250)
- 2005: 250cc World Champion (Honda RSW 250)
The first time Daniel Pedrosa got on a motorbike was at the age of four and his machine, a motocross Italjet 50, had side-wheels. At the age of six, Dani began racing on minibikes. His first pocket bike was a miniature copy of a street Kawasaki. Other bikes followed, circuits and races with friends, always for fun and not even imagining what was yet to come.
It was in 1996 when the ten-year-old Dani entered the Spanish Minibike Championship. Dani began to race on kart circuits all over Spain, always joined by his parents and with the bike in the car trunk. They
were also joined by Dani's little brother, Eric, 5 years younger than Dani, who is taking his first steps in motorbike riding as well. That same year, Dani finished his first race in sixth position, due to a problem with the exhaust pipe of his bike. With the second race came his first podium finish. He liked the experience and decided to enter the same Championship the next year, after finishing second overall in his first season.
But he had bad luck and a few days before the 1997 season Dani got chicken pox. The result was that he wasn't even able to put on the helmet. It was the beginning of the season and given the problem, Pedrosa finished that season eight points behind the leader, in the third overall position.
Although Pedrosa managed to get the title in 1998 he still enjoyed racing as a mere hobby. The Aprilia 50 Cup and the Open RACC were popular promotion cups in those days and Pedrosa considered the possibility to enter one of them. But due to the lack of means and support and despite his good results, Dani decided to leave motorbikes aside and to change over to mountain bikes. When he was just about to get the licence to start racing on bicycles, the family heard from a friend that the Movistar Activa Cup, a promotion cup with competition bikes, was being organised. The change from minibikes to racing bikes was huge and Dani was still young, but in early 1999 they decided to send an entry form to take part in the trials that would be held at the Jarama circuit in Madrid. The weekend before the trials Pedrosa learned to ride a bike with a gearbox on an industrial area nearby his home with a borrowed bike. It was his first time on a circuit and he was not only nervous; the bike was so high that his feet didn't reach the floor. Despite everything, the 13-year-old passed the trials and took part in the Movistar Activa Cup that year finishing in a meritorious eighth position. Of the twenty-five riders taking part in the Cup that year, only three were able to become part of Alberto Puig's team, who, given Pedrosa's huge potential, included him among the chosen, with Joan Olivé and Raúl Jara.
In 2000, Dani took part in the Spanish Championship with the Movistar Junior Team. He finished four of the six races, but took four poles, finishing fourth overall, behind Joan Olivé, Raúl Jara and Toni Elias. It was then when Alberto Puig told him that he was going to take part in the 125cc Motorcycle World Championship. Pedrosa, who was already 14 couldn't believe it; his dream was coming true. In the first race held in Suzuka, he was among the last riders of the grid and he had never seen so many riders racing together and especially in such a competitive class. He still remembers that he got scared in the first corner, something that never happened again.
2001 was a learning year for Dani Pedrosa, but even though he managed to take two podiums finishes, a third place in Valencia and another in Motegi. He took the start among the leading riders in several races, and despite having little experience; he rode side by side with well-known riders such as Toni Elias, Manuel Poggiali or Youichi Ui. He finished eighth overall in the Championship. His final third position in the 2002 World Championship, where he had been a title candidate together with Manuel Poggiali or Arnaud Vincent, was the evidence of his tremendous potential. This fact was confirmed by the nine podium finishes and six pole positions he took that year, as well as by his three victories in Assen, Motegi and Valencia. Although he had to settle for the third place, he was considered the most spectacular and combative rider of the class.
Dani Pedrosa faced his third season in the 125cc World Championship with serenity, determination and with the aim of clinching the title. During the season, he showed a maturity that would rather be normal for a veteran rider but not for an 18-year-old and he got the reputation of one of the most talented young riders of the sport. He became 125cc World Champion in Malaysia, with two GPS left for the end of the season, after a total of five victories and six podium finishes. Only one week later, misfortune hit the young rider who suffered a hair-rising accident during the practice session of the Australian GP, where he broke both ankles.
In 2004, after a hard recovery period and under the protection of Alberto Puig, his mentor and right-hand man, the young rider decided to make the jump to the 250cc class. From the beginning, he considered the season as a season of learning and adapting to the class and not with the aim of fighting for the title. But he surprised everybody right from the first tests of the season. Hard work and dedication, both from the rider himself and the whole team, soon bore fruit. He took the victory of the first race in South Africa after a spectacular fight with De Puniet. He took the class leadership after the Brazilian Grand Prix and he stayed there until the end of the season. He became 250cc World Champion in Australia, in his rookie season in the class, at the age of 19, the youngest in history, fifteen years after Sito Pons. In addition to the seven victories, it was his incredible regularity throughout the year that made him worth the title. The only races he didn't finish on the podium were Jerez, after crashing under heavy rain and in Estoril and Phillip Island where he finished fourth.
With more experience and maturity, Dani Pedrosa faced his second season in the 250cc as the big favourite. The considerable competition he had to face, the adverse weather conditions at the beginning of the season and the shoulder injury he suffered during the practice sessions of the Japanese Grand Prix, turned it into a difficult year for the Repsol rider. Eventually, 51 points were enough to let Alberto Puig's pupil win his third sceptre on the Australian circuit of Phillip Island. There were many title aspirants this year, hoping to take the title from Pedrosa: Jorge Lorenzo, with whom he has fought colossal duels during practices and in races, such as Assen, Sachsenring and Brno; Andrea Dovizioso, who improved as the Championship was moving forward; 2004 class runner-up Sebastián Porto, a rival who disappeared after suffering countless problems... But the only one able to delay Pedrosa's title regain was Australian rider Casey Stoner. In the first Grand Prix of the season, staged in Jerez, the reigning World Champion played his role and took his first victory on the Andalusian track. Not a real friend of wet races, Pedrosa had to overcome his fears this season, because the weather conditions were bad on several occasions. In Donington and under an intense rain shower, he took a meritorious fourth place, his best result so far on a wet track. The young Repsol rider has led the overall standings almost from start to end, and he only left the top spot on the sheets during one Grand Prix, after the flood in Shanghai. Bit by bit, Dani went on increasing his advantage, first over Dovizioso and then over Stoner, having a maximum advantage of 63 points before the Japanese Grand Prix.
Motegi was a point of inflection for Dani Pedrosa. Three crashes during the practice sessions undermined both his physical and moral condition. Despite hurting his right shoulder and starting the race with hardly any time to set-up his Honda, his skill and conviction took him to cross the finish line behind the winner of the race, his team-mate Aoyama. He arrived in Malaysia with hardly any time to recover, but he warned his rivals already during the practice. He took the second place on the starting grid but crashed in the second lap after loosing the front end of his bike. First no-score for Dani, something that Stoner, winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix made good use of to close the gap in the overall standings. Still convalescent, Pedrosa worked hard in Qatar and managed to take the fourth place, despite suffering evident problems with his engine. Australia meant the first match ball for Dani, and the Repsol rider didn't want to loose his first chance. After a good start, Dani knew how to read the race perfectly well. While Stoner crashed in the fourth lap, Pedrosa put himself behind Porto, escaping together with the Argentinean rider on his way to the seventh victory of the season. Nothing but the victory was good to become world champion and Dani overtook the Argentinean rider on the finish line, scoring the 25 points he needed to take his second World Championship title in the 250cc class with two races left for the end of the championship.
Titanium, that is how one of his big admirers, Valentino Rossi, called him for being "light and resistant", in addition to being the rider with the highest quality in the paddock. At present Daniel Pedrosa lives with his parents in Castellar del Vallés, a town close to Sabadell, in the province of Barcelona. Among his hobbies are bicycle riding, something he still enjoys a lot, as well as supermotard, motocross or trial. Outside the world of sports he enjoys going to the movies or spending time with friends. Sometimes he joins them at the disco, but he prefers to amuse himself playing computer games, because, as Dani says those with motorbikes and cars are very realistic, the behaviour of the bike is very similar to that of a real one. A curious fact: Dani learned the circuits on which he races now by heart watching videotapes of 500cc races with Rainey or Lawson. However, his favourite rider has always been Mick Doohan.