The simple, stunning fact of the situation has to be humbling for Dani Pedrosa: he is being replaced on the factory Honda MotoGP team by Jorge Lorenzo.
Few, if any, riders have enjoyed the support that Pedrosa has had for nearly his entire professional career. Repsol, Dorna, Red Bull and Honda were behind Pedrosa when he was a mere 250 rider. That colossal backbone was supposed to bring success when MotoGP went from 990 MotoGP bikes to 800s, but Pedrosa never won the MotoGP title.
Even during the 2006 season when Nicky Hayden was leading the world championship the Honda/HRC/Repsol/Puig effort received the focus of support from the Honda MotoGP team. Pedrosa enjoyed a stress free learning season of MotoGP while Hayden was bogged down testing brakes, suspension, frames and electronics, while leading the points battle. Their infamous incident at Estoril when Pedrosa punted Hayden from his bike was quite telling, showing how the culture inside Honda’s top level team was focused on Pedrosa. He was Honda’s future in MotoGP.
Those combined forces prepared a clear path for Pedrosa. It’s not a story that the late Nicky Hayden told many people, but when he saw and sat on the 2007 800cc Honda RC213V MotoGP bike for the very first time, for a few moments he actually thought that the team were pulling a prank on him–that maybe American television network MTV had conspired with the team to tell him he had to compress himself into a mini-bike MotoGP racer to see how he would react to it, that the reaction would make for good television. Unfortunately, there was much conspiring, but it wasn’t to get a rise out of Hayden. It was to make an ultra-competitive package for HRC’s star rider–Dani Pedrosa.
Twelve years later Pedrosa has zero MotoGP titles to his record. He has race wins to his credit but zero titles. Additionally, Pedrosa has had three teammates who have won the MotoGP title. Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez basically walked into the team and blew Pedrosa out of the water.
Pedrosa was widely expected to announce his retirement today Catalunya. He called a press conference but in the end announced nothing; he says he has options in order to stay in MotoGP.
A rider who has had the level of support that Pedrosa has enjoyed for his entire MotoGP career isn’t just going to fade away. First and foremost Dorna want him to stay in MotoGP as a rider. And not as a test rider or ambassador of the sport, but an ‘on the grid’ MotoGP racer.
It’s well known that a team is being formed that will see Petronas and other sponsors back a satellite Yamaha MotoGP effort with two riders, probably run out of the former Aspar team (now known as Angel Nieto Team). While there are multiple riders who deserve a shot in MotoGP, Dorna would like to see Pedrosa on that Petronas Yamaha team.
So that’s what is going to happen.