2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 8: Dani Pedrosa

Our MotoGP mid-season review continues with the man everyone tipped for the title on Michelin tires, Dani Pedrosa.

4th: Dani Pedrosa, Honda, 96 points

Before the start of the 2016 season, many insiders, including several MotoGP riders, were telling anyone who would listen to look out for Dani Pedrosa. The new Michelin tires played perfectly into his hands. The extra grip of the powerful Michelin rear gave him the grip he had been missing with the Bridgestones, and his smoothness with the throttle was helping to overcome the limitations of the spec electronics. Pedrosa was the unanimous outside tip for the championship.

Once the 2016 season started, any hope of a Pedrosa title has flown. A mediocre Qatar got him the season off to a weak start, but Pedrosa's troubles started in earnest once Michelin changed their rear tire in the wake of Scott Redding's delaminated tire in Argentina. Because of his light weight, Pedrosa has always struggled to get heat into rear tires, and it is heat which creates grip. Once the much harder construction Michelin was introduced, it became almost impossible.

What made it particularly tough on Pedrosa was the change to the center part of the tire. Pedrosa's style relies on him picking the bike up quickly and getting it onto the fat part of the tire. There, he can use the bike's weight to create pressure on the rear tire, and use his balance and his skill with the throttle to generate drive out of the corner. But it was the middle of the tire which Michelin made much harder, the precise section which Pedrosa relies on. Getting out of corners became impossible for the Spaniard.

Things have improved as Michelin have worked on their tires, making the mid-section once again softer, and faster to warm up. But that still leaves Pedrosa with the same fundamental problem which all Honda riders have: no grip out of corners under acceleration. When you open the throttle, the engine is so aggressive that it just wants to spin up the rear tire. At some point, the tire will start to grip, at which point the short wheelbase of the bike means it wants to hoist the front wheel to the sky. With limited electronics, controlling wheelies is difficult. When you are as small of frame as Dani Pedrosa, there is a limit to how far you can move your weight forward.

Pedrosa faces an uphill task for the rest of the season, but things are looking up. As HRC gets more of a handle on the electronics, the throttle response of the Honda has improved considerably. Honda has also brought new throttle bodies and trialled a new exhaust for the RC213V, to try to improve the engine character, and improve acceleration. But Pedrosa has also had harsh words for Honda, saying the follow Marc Márquez' development direction too much, building an aggressive engine only Márquez can ride, and leaving the rest of the Honda riders out in the cold. Given the positions of the other Honda riders, you would have to say he has a point.

With a new contract under his belt, Pedrosa has two more seasons to try to win the MotoGP title which has eluded him so far. He will need help from Honda to do that. Given the struggles of the Honda satellite riders, they may be inclined to listen.


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Comments

Tip Dani for the title on Michelins? Not me. But I did tip him as bursting to the front on a Factory Yamaha next year should he be able - what a pairing! just a dream.

Great consideration of the tires here. HRC'S bike LAST year on the Bstones was further biased than even the Japanese rubber and Mr Smash Marquez were to accomodate. HRC is SO slow in making deep engineering philosophy change, and since they have made such great effort in manipulatively forcing everything and everyone in MotoGP to accomodate their will there is some unfortunate satisfaction in seeing their self imposed hubris on display with this bike.

Contrastingly, Marquez getting ahold of himself and this unruly beast is wonderful. Dani, your length of stay at Honda is something that is YOUR doing. You were slow to climb out from behind Alberto Puig, and it was great to see you blossom further. That was a long time ago in MotoGP time. I don't know enough about your experience with options for a new bike, bet that there has been little opportunity to get into the factory Yamaha garage, and can see you opting for the Honda over Suzuki or Ducati. But I am sorry to see you dwindling there, anticipate regret for you, and will always wonder. I hold zero hope in Pedrosa winning a title on next year's Honda barring Marquez exiting MotoGP AND both Vinales/Lorenzo significantly under performing. How likely does that sound?

Perhaps 2018 has a fresh opportunity for you and a different bike and I hope for that, and that it go well. But I bet whatever comfort and hope you have had at HRC will be underwhelming and fast to fade. A future as retiring with them as steady 2nd fiddle will mean little.

Everyone jumps on the badwagon whenever Marquez or Honda is mentioned and make it sound like a wrongdoing from Honda for supporting their best rider. Yet people forget that Riders like Colin Edwards never recived the same support and equipment as VR received from Yamaha when Colin was VR's teammate.
On one hand you have one of the best talents ever to arrive in Motogp, youngest world champion, a guy that has been giving Rossi nightmares since he arrived in 2013 and on the other hand you have a rider who despite been given preferential treatment for many years hasn't brought a championship.
I know who i would give preference when developing my bike if i owned Honda.

Agreed.

A weird thing here is that for 2015 they made their bike too Marquez ish for Marquez. And then repeated it this yr, Michelins be damned.

Neat thing about Vale - Edwards was that they were similar in stature AND would independently come up with very similar setup preferences. Yamaha must have loved it!

I wonder how much thought and what sort he gave the Suzuki for next yr.

Hello Motoshrink, can you please explain what have you meant by that?

"and since they (Honda) have made such great effort in manipulatively forcing everything and everyone in MotoGP to accomodate their will".

The many years of successfully influencing rules and regulations. Dorna enabled them some, and Yamaha would sign off on some following suit. Right out in the open willful efforts culminating in "if you impose spec electronics we may quit MotoGP" mutterings. Did that drive you nuts too?

Is Summer break over yet? Cheers Zilla!

Oh, that. I don't think there is anything wrong with that! As you know, Honda has been the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959, as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than 14 million internal combustion engines each year. Honda is the eighth largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

But, let us return to motorcycles and WGP or MotoGP, as the biggest name in motorcycling bussiness and in the sport, what do you really expect? They are investing more than anybody else, they are the most winning manufacturer etc., what should they do? Should they let small manufacurers like KTM or Ducati to have bigger say than them? I don't think so. This is how things works, in nearly all sports (and politics).

Just my two cents.

Completely agree. But at the same time, we're now talking about (what was once) one of the smallest manufacturers going up against the aforementioned Honda juggernaut.  They needed the advantage to stay competitive and I personally needed them to be in there so that it didn't turn into HRC vs. the world.

Come on, the 851 Superbike winning races on an international stage was the Manchester City of its time! 

I would have enjoyed seeing Dani on an M1 & it may have suited him, but what do I know of the politics behind him staying at Honda!

It only took one seasons for changes in electronics and tires to make Dani's supposed weight advantage a disadvantage.  Frankly I've always been skeptical of the notion that Dani had any significant advantage on a MotoGP bike given that they weigh over 300lb and make 220+ HP.

after the blown up, someone made the pressure sensor mandatory. So dani no longer runs with lower pressure. Putting thing way in favour of his disadvantages.