When you wake up in the morning, you have to decide how you want to see things. The mental strength consists in choosing the positive thought—that is usually not the easiest way.

- Honda rider Dani Pedrosa writes a new chapter of his life with a smile

"A happy rider is a faster rider." During the interview, Dani Pedrosa smiles and looks directly into the eyes with a new relaxed confidence. The 31-year-old Honda factory rider is facing his 17th season in the GPs, the 12th in the premier class, with renewed motivation that has its roots inside.

He has the talent, experience, and three world titles under his belt, but still something was missing: a smile. Besides tires, setups, electronics, and engine character, the rider’s focus is set now on the mind, which needs to be trained like the other muscles of the body in order to push the limit always a bit forward.

For Dani Pedrosa, the mental training has become as important as the physical preparation, and with this renewed confidence he is competing to accomplish his mission: winning the MotoGP title.

Four podium finishes, including one victory in seven races. If it weren't for two crashes, we could say that this is the best Dani Pedrosa ever. How do you feel?
"I'm happy of this first part of the season. We are working well, but I don't settle down. I keep on looking ahead and improving. If we look at the championship this year, it is difficult to stay always at the top."

dani pedrosa interview with maria guidotti
Dani Pedrosa and Maria GuidottiRepsol Media: Jaime Olivares

Two years ago you were close to the decision to stop racing due to arm pain. Now you are a candidate to the MotoGP title. What has changed?
"2016 was a difficult season. I learned a lot, and I changed many things, starting from my side. I changed many things: my mentality, the people around me, something in the team. The 2017 bike is also different. The tires are better."

How is your feeling with the bike?
"The new engine has changed the character of the bike: It's less aggressive, it's smoother, but not on every track. The tires are working better compared to last year. In general I feel more confident, especially with the front. I have more control under braking, but it remains the issue that on some tracks the Michelin tires work really well; on other circuits not."

You said you changed mentality. What is your approach now?
"We try to remain happy and calm. I remember the pressure I had mid-season last year, and on the contrary this year I try to stay focused and enjoy the good momentum."

How did you train to find the smile again?
"The mental training is something you learn with the time, and it changes constantly as your life changes. It's something you need to do every day."

dani pedrosa smiles at camera
Dani PedrosaRepsol Media: Jaime Olivares

Are you following a specific method?
"It's not a method; it's a thought. When you wake up in the morning, you have to decide how you want to see things. The mental strength consists in choosing the positive thought. That it is usually not the easiest way. The mental strength consists in choosing the positive thought that usually is not the easiest way. It's easier to find an excuse or thinking that there is nothing more to do."

Sete Gibernau has supported you since the start of the season. How is he helping you?
"It's important to have the right people around because you share with them your thoughts, your doubts, and your feeling, and this sharing can turn into positive or negative. Sete's plus is his experience as a rider, but he is no more racing so that he can have the double perspective of what a rider experiences, but also a vision from the outside. Not so many people know what a rider needs to feel to be fast."

Happiness? Determination? What do you mean by "what a rider needs to feel to be fast"?
"It's a combination of many things that you cannot find in one day. But if you find them, you win."

For many years, Alberto Puig has been your mentor; now you have Sete Gibernau. Two former riders with two different personalities. To which phases of your life do these two key people correspond?
"They are both very important. The era with Alberto matches with the start of my career, so it is marked by many first times: He was with me the first time I did an overseas race, for the first victory, or the first time I made mistakes. I remember it as a very nice time. Now it's also a very nice phase. It's a new chapter of my life. It's like learning again, but not from a white sheet because you have 16 years experience as a professional rider under your belt. It's like changing pair of glasses and I want to know more and raise the limit every time a bit higher."

dani pedrosa tt assen free practice action
Dani Pedrosa, TT Assen Free Practice 2017Courtesy of Repsol Honda

Were you lacking of motivations?
"More than this, I'm pushed by the need to always improve and trying to always keep the right mentality. With Sete we are working on this aspect: to keep the right approach, to translate into actions what I feel from the inside and what he sees from the outside."

It's been 12 years that you've been fighting for the MotoGP title. How do you keep the motivation always high?
"This is the target since I was a kid. The first dream come true was to become a professional rider then to become world champion. After three world titles in a row in the smaller classes [125 in 2003, 250 in 2004 and 2005], the goal was and is to become world champion in MotoGP."

Is this the right year to accomplish your mission?
"It's a complicated season. It's difficult to score points and very easy to make mistakes, but we keep on believing it."

Currently fourth in the championship, Dani Pedrosa is 27 points behind the leader Maverick Viñales. The gap is not an obstacle but an opportunity to do even better, and Sunday he will take the start of the Dutch TT aiming at gaining as many points as possible. He is ready and will make it—with hard work, daily training, positive thinking, and a smile.

dani pedrosa smiling
Dani PedrosaRepsol Media: Jaime Olivares