Updated: May 11
Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Debargha Banerjee
Dani Pedrosa, arguably one of the most underrated MotoGP riders of all time, made a comeback last month, at his home Grand Prix in Spain, and at the iconic Jerez circuit.
Pedrosa retired from full-time MotoGP in 2018, and became the test rider for KTM for 2019 and onwards. He would make his one-off wildcard return at the Styrian GP in Austria, 2021. Unfortunately for Pedrosa, this wildcard race would end in disaster, as he crashed and the bike leaked fuel all over the heavy braking zone of what is now Turn 4 for MotoGP, and still Turn 2 for F1.
However, when it was announced that Pedrosa would return once again at the 2023 Jerez Spanish Grand Prix, there was much excitement, because KTM seemed as though they would be one of the manufacturers who had a genuine chance to win.
Pedrosa topped Practice 1 to everyone’s pleasant surprise, proving that despite being 37 Years old, this man still has it. Pedrosa would go on to qualify in 6th position for the Sprint, and the main Grand Prix. This was an exceptional result for the Spaniard, especially who has been out of competitive MotoGP racing for over 4 years.
In the Sprint race, a first for Dani Pedrosa, it was a confusing start to the race. The race was red-flagged after just one lap of racing. Pedrosa would get a second bite at the cherry to get a great launch and try to overtake the riders in front, something which KTM had managed to turn into their strong points having great traction and acceleration off the line.
Pedrosa would go on to finish his first race in MotoGP since 2018, and his first ever Sprint Race, exactly where he started - P6. This kind of result may not sound particularly special, but for a rider who has been out of MotoGP for so long, and has had to adapt to a new and different format with the 2023 Sprint system, this kind of result is not one to scoff at.
Many predicted that with Pedrosa’s performance in the Sprint, and him weighing just 48kg, he would therefore be easier on the tyres and subsequently be able to overtake a lot of riders who would wear their tyres out. Unfortunately, such is the nature of the Jerez circuit - he sort of got stuck behind the Ducati of Luca Marini, which is exceptionally difficult to overtake as it pulls away on the straights, and then holds some decent pace through the corners. Unfortunately, Pedrosa would be stuck within the train, which historically at Jerez, is always very difficult to break out of.
However, “The Samurai” would only finish some 6.5 seconds behind the race winner, Francesco Bagnaia, and his own KTM teammates, Jack Miller and Brad Binder. Now, in an era where we have so many talented riders on the sidelines, just waiting to jump in and take a MotoGP seat - an argument must be made to give the 3-time champion another full-time race seat. Pedrosa has been an exceptional talent, but when he was at the peak of his career, he raced up against Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner - making it very difficult for him to get a MotoGP premier class championship. Although, he did finish runner-up in the MotoGP championship on several occasions.
With Pedrosa’s most recent performance, in comparison to some other riders also on the MotoGP grid, one could definitely argue that Pedrosa deserves a MotoGP seat, and a seat at a top team as well. If a MotoGP seat is not possible however, then maybe a career in the World Superbikes would suit Dani Pedrosa just right. The World Superbike championship is currently being absolutely dominated by the Ducati of Alvaro Bautista, who is a former MotoGP rider himself. That might make for quite an interesting battle between Spaniards, should Pedrosa desire a shot at the WSBK.
But what do you think, should Pedrosa be given a full-time seat? Should he perhaps pursue a career with the WSBK? Let us know in the comments below!
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