CW INTERVIEW: Dani Pedrosa

A chat with Honda factory MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa, who turns 30 on September 29.

Maria Guidotti interviews Dani Pedrosa at Aragon

Dani Pedrosa’s story started with a special present: a pocketbike he received as a birthday present from his father Antonio when he was 4. By the age of 6, Dani had begun racing minibikes. Other bikes followed, other circuits and races, first for fun and then as a professional rider. A three-time MotoGP runner-up, Pedrosa says his best season is yet to come. This is the mentality of Pedrosa, a fast and precise rider who year after year, incident after incident, surgery after surgery, seeks to claim the only title he is missing.

In this exclusive interview, we chat with Pedrosa about his 15-year career with Honda, from his debut in 125cc (Suzuka 2001) until now.

CW: On September 29 you turn 30. You gave yourself and your fans a great gift with that second place at Aragon. What a race!

Dani Pedrosa: "I'm really happy. We had a great battle with Valentino and it was a great satisfaction to finish in front of him. He is a master in this part of racing and can usually beat anyone on the grid, and for me it is one of my weaker points. I could hear the roar of his engine. He was very close. When he started to attack me with 5-6 laps to go, I reacted immediately by passing him again. It was difficult because I had to maintain a high pace and—at the same time—try to close all the doors. He passed me with unexpected lines and braking points. We swapped positions several times but I was able to hold on to beat him to the checkered flag. It was satisfying because I could control the bike throughout the whole race. The layout of the track with more left corners helped me also because I could focus more on racing instead of how my forearms were feeling."

Dani Pedrosa on the podium at Aragon

CW: Do you wish for something in particular for your birthday?

DP: "I would love to spend some time relaxing and chatting with my friends. Sharing this day with my family and friends is the best gift I could wish for."

CW: You have three world titles, 49 GP wins, 138 podiums. What can you tell us about your long career?

DP: "I'm very happy as I have achieved more than what I could have imagined. I have also learned a lot from the difficult moments. When something tough happens, you can decide to remain upset or try to understand and see what you can learn for the future. I have gone through several incidents, lots of injuries, moments when you are down or you touch the sky... I'm learning day after day."

CW: You missed the 500cc two-stroke era but you went through all the different MotoGP machines: the 990cc, the 800cc and back to 1000cc. Can you tell us how the bikes have changed throughout these years?

DP: "The 990cc machines were bigger bikes with a lot of power at not high rpm. There was less electronics and the tires played an important role. With the switch to the 800cc bikes, there was a boom in electronics. With the change of the tires and the introduction of Bridgestone as the single tire supplier, the riding style changed too. You could push more. The way of building the chassis also changed. The tires continued to play an important part; you needed to build the bike around the tires. With the 1000cc bikes, the engines returned bigger and with more power but at higher revs."

Dani Pedrosa race action from Aragon

CW: Which was your best bike?

DP: "I liked the RC213V 1000cc of the year 2012 a lot . I had a very good feeling with this bike and it was fun to ride. The engine was powerful and the bike was also physically demanding."

CW: And the most difficult to ride?

DP: "The Honda RC212V of 2009 and 2010, and also this year's RC213V because it is a bit aggressive and difficult to control. We are struggling to have it in the right place under braking, in the corner, and also exiting the corner. It's more difficult to push. The bike doesn't forgive mistakes, as we have seen this season with Marc and sometimes also with me. But we cannot further develop this bike, so we have to be positive and look confident for next year."

CW: How MotoGP in general has changed since you joined the circus in 2001?

DP: "It has made a huge step forward in terms of visibility and capacity of reaching a very large audience. Thanks to the media, the TV, social networks, and sponsors, MotoGP is now very popular all over the world."

CW: In 10 MotoGP seasons you have shared the garage with Nicky Hayden, Andrea Dovizioso, Casey Stoner, and Marc Marquez. Can you tell us something about each one of them?

DP: "When I joined the Repsol Honda Team in 2006, my first teammate was Nicky Hayden. He was an incredibly hard worker. It was nonstop work from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., constantly trying to improve the bike and gain that last tenth. Andrea Dovizioso was more quiet. He was much more organized and mature for his age. Two words for Casey Stoner: talent and passion. Then there's Marc Marquez: He is young and cheerful."

Dani Perosa and Nicky Hayden in 2008

CW: What is your best quality?

DP: "Determination. When I decide to do something, I'm really focused and determined. If the results aren't coming, I keep on trying."

CW: And your weak point?

DP: "I'm impatient."

CW: Your typical day at home?

DP: "I live in Switzerland and a good day for me is when it's sunny and I can spend some time with my friends on the lake. A bad day? When it's winter, it's snowing and maybe you are training outside."

CW: If you weren't racing motorcycles, what would you be doing?

DP: "I don't know. Since I was a kid, I only had one idea in mind: racing motorcycles. There was a moment, when I was 12 years old and I was still at school that I wanted to become a professional cyclist. But from age 13 I focused only on motorcycles, making a step forward every year."

CW: The greatest moment of your career?

DP: "I like to remember when I started racing—the first time I traveled to Japan, the first podium, the first GP win, the first time my family saw me on TV. I like to remember the joyful expression on the face of my parents to see that I had become a GP rider. The first time is always special."

CW: What are your plans for the future?

DP: "I cannot tell you exactly right now, but I know what makes me happy:  learning new things and sharing with others what I know. Working with young riders? Who knows... it depends."