MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Dani's golden, uphill career
Pedrosa's MotoGP career may have been blessed with the HRC golden ticket, but racing, regulations and broken bones have (mostly) conspired against him
Dani Pedrosa was once king of the Sachsenring. He won the 250 race in 2004 and 2005, then a hat-trick of MotoGP victories in 2010, 2011 and 2012, before Marc Márquez came along.
But that’s another story. Today we are talking about Pedrosa, MotoGP’s pint-sized perennial performer who, last Thursday, announced his retirement.
Pedrosa has broken a few records and many more bones during a long career during which he’s never quite lifted the MotoGP crown. But if you think he’s just been unlucky, you don’t know the half of it.
The 32-year-old is the only rider in 70 years of Grand Prix racing to have won at least one race a year over 16 consecutive seasons. That’s quite a record, achieved on non-factory Honda RS125s and RS250s and on factory RCVs. And no other Honda rider has won more races. He’s currently on 54 wins, which puts him equal with ‘Mighty’ Mick Doohan and well ahead of Honda’s other greatest performer, Jim Redman, who won 45 GPs during the 1960s, when riders were lucky to survive 45 races, let alone win them.
So what makes Pedrosa remarkable, apart from the fact that he’s won more premier-class races than Kevin Schwantz and ridden a factory Honda for 13 seasons without winning the title? It’s so obvious that it’s a cliché: the man is tiny, more like a schoolboy than a big, bad bike racer.
The little samurai won the 125 crown in 2003 and the 250 title over the next two years. He is one of the all-time greatest 250 riders: small, light, glass-smooth and inch-perfect.
Then he was promoted to MotoGP. During his premier-class career he has won 31 races and finished championship runner-up on three occasions; making him the sport’s most successful failure, inheriting that unwelcome mantle from that other so-near-but-so-far hero Randy Mamola.
People who criticise him for his failures don’t understand how his gilded path to the pinnacle of racing has been steep and serpentine, strewn with rocky hairpins and precipices.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.