Is there such a thing as pure bad luck? In Dani Pedrosa’s case I think there is. Surely the biggest question mark surrounding last week’s retirement announcement by Dani must be how a rider with such an amazing record never won the MotoGP™ World title that he so richly deserved.
Only 15 times World Champion Giacomo Agostini has matched Dani by winning a premier class race for 12 successive seasons and the Spanish Honda rider is the only rider in the 70 year history of the sport to have won a Grand Prix for 16 successive seasons. The records continue to tumble.
Only Agostini and Valentino Rossi have secured more Grand Prix podiums while only nine times World Champion Rossi has secured more premier class podiums. He is the fourth youngest premier class race winner behind Marc Marquez, Freddie Spencer and Norick Abe and won the same number of Grands Prix as five times World Champion Mick Doohan and premier class Grands Prix as four times World Champion Eddie Lawson. His 54 Grands Prix wins equal Doohan while he equals the Australian as the most successful Honda Grand Prix rider of all time.
Following his 125cc and two 250cc World titles we just waited for the MotoGP™ crown to follow, especially after that first win at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix – it never came, but why? Two never forgotten images sum up the career to me of surely one of the most underestimated and unlucky riders in the 70 year history of Grand Prix racing.
His smile as he entered the press conference at Misano two years ago after he’d left the greats including Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez trailing in his wake by nearly three seconds on the Adriatic coast. His separate overtaking manoeuvres on the three World Champions came right out of the Marquez and Rossi textbook and merited his smile. Once again Dani had shown the world and his critics he could on his day match and beat the very best in the world.
Roll back the clock almost 13 years as the helicopter took off from Phillip Island bound for the hospital in Melbourne. Five days earlier the fresh faced teenager had clinched the first of three world titles with a 125cc victory at Sepang in Malaysia. In the first practice session for the Australian Grand Prix from the commentary box it looked a pretty standard crash as he slid off at the bottom of Lukey Heights in the cool conditions but as we learned so many times there is hardly ever a standard crash for Dani. He broke both his ankles as he slid into the barrier and his season and World Championship celebrations came to a premature end. When he crashed he hurt himself and throughout that 12 year MotoGP™ career it was so often not his fault. When it was where other walked away to fight another day Dani was on the plane back to Barcelona to mend broken bones.
His brilliant teammate Marquez was not giving anybody else a chance but I so wanted Dani to win at the Sachsenring on Sunday. He still has time in the remaining four months of an amazing career before giving that much repaired body the rest it deserves.