Three-time World Champion Dani Pedrosa has been named a MotoGP Legend ahead of hanging up his leathers at the end of 2018, with the Spaniard inducted into the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame at the season finale at Valencia. Pedrosa won the 125 Championship in 2003, the 250 title in 2004 and 2005, and is one of the most successful riders of all time in the premier class.
“First of all thank you to Carmelo and thank you for the nice words,” smiled Pedrosa. Obviously it’s a very emotional moment you never expect it to arrive when you’re a kid, and now to be here is a bit strange but I’ happy because I felt a lot of support from all the fans, a lot from all the paddock.
“I’m really, really happy about this moment to see my rivals of a lifetime here. I feel that MotoGP gave me a lot of things in my life because basically I’ve always been here and I learned a lot in life thanks to MotoGP. In the same way I’m very happy that I could give something else to the sport like Carmelo explained. When I started it was a new generation winning races and Championships, not only me but everyone here on the front row. This is good for me because it’s a nice feeling that we opened a door for a new generation. Luckily I don’t know all my numbers which is a good thing!”
Asked about a standout moment, the Spaniard added: “Obviously the moment that stands out for me is the first Championship because you achieve something you dreamed of. You know you can get a podium or win a race but to get a championship it’s something that, as a kid, you see these guys going so fast and you don’t believe it. So when you achieve it all the emotions come out, and not only that year but for life because you’re been dreaming of it since you were born; watching races on TV and wanting to be that guy.
“So that day is unique and that’s what makes you, it’s the drive that makes you want more and want to keep going and get through the tough times – and the reaction from the people and the love you get is something I could never imagine so for me that’s the most beautiful.”
Dani Pedrosa’s career
Pedrosa’s international career began in 2001 in the 125 World Championship. As a rookie, he took two podiums and finished his first season within the top ten overall in eighth. The following year he took his first wins – three of them – to finish the season third overall, before he went two better in 2003 and won his first title with five wins.
Despite breaking both his ankles in a crash at the end of 2003, the ‘Little Samurai’ then moved up to the 250 World Championship for 2004 – and won on his debut.
At 18 years and 202 days old Pedrosa became the youngest rider to win in the class, and it was on his way to becoming the youngest ever intermediate class World Champion at 19 years and 18 days old.
In 2005, he defended the crown.
2006 marked Pedrosa’s debut in the premier class. On the podium first time out in Jerez and then needing only four races to take his first win when he took to the top step in Shanghai, one of the most successful premier class riders ever had arrived on the scene.
He took another win in his rookie year, at Donington Park, and ended the year in the top five.
In 2007 Pedrosa was second overall to only Casey Stoner and added more wins and podiums to his tally, and he was in the top three in the Championship in 2008 – despite breaking his right hand in pre-season testing and sitting out the US GP after injuring his left hand at the German GP.
In 2009 he managed the same top three despite more struggles with injury, and in 2010 was runner-up once again.
2011 was another battle through the pain barrier, before an incredible assault on the title in 2012 that saw the Spaniard only narrowly miss out on the crown – and win the most races that year.
In 2013 Pedrosa was leading the standings before a collarbone break and was third overall, and in 2014 he suffered with arm problems throughout the season and despite that, took another win.
2015 began with career-saving surgery to fix the problem, and Pedrosa was back on the top step towards the end of the year at Motegi and at Sepang.
In 2016 Pedrosa won at Misano as he destroyed the field, and 2017 saw him make another piece of history as he took to the top step in the 3000th race counting towards the World Championship, in Jerez. He also became the first rider in history to win at least one Grand Prix per season for 16 consecutive years.
After taking the third most podiums of all time behind only Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini, Pedrosa retires at the end of 2018 – and now joins the ranks of MotoGP Legends.
Vito Ippolito, President of the FIM
“I’m very happy to be here with Dani,” began Vito Ippolito, President of the FIM. “You made the list of the big success of his racing career, in the different classes in MotoGP and I can’t add anything around that but I want to say that Dani is an example in my opinion to all the other riders, especially the youngest. Dani really is an example. The way he raced, the way he won, he had great results but the clean way he raced. We in the FIM I can say that sometimes we talked to Dani to share ideas about how he sees things, the penalties to the riders, what his opinion was. We have a lot of trust in Dani.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports.
“It’s a controversial situation for me, on one side I’m happy for him to be a Legend, from the first moment he said he would retire we talked about it and he’s been a big legend of MotoGP and a big asset,” adds Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports. “But on the other side all the memories of the generation are coming to me, Dani is one of the people who has worked through our system and now he has retired. I remember very well the first time I saw Dani in Jarama at the selection for the Activa Movistar Cup. Alberto Puig was talking to all the riders explaining everything, and from the beginning I saw Dani’s eyes and they were saying, ‘don’t talk to me and let me have the bike!’. And I remember he needed help to get on the bike but immediately we saw the skills and the possibilities of Dani. We decided the rules to be part of the Cup, the maximum and minimum age. And Dani wasn’t able to enter by a couple of months but then we talked about it and we decided to adjust it to allow him to participate, and it started a very good relationship. During a very long career we’ve discussed a lot of things many times. We are friends, but he’s also always trying to tell me what he thinks is correct! I’m extremely proud, together with the FIM, to make Dani a real MotoGP Legend, and thank him for all his contribution to MotoGP.”
Pedrosa joins a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP Legends that includes Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola, Kork Ballington and the late Nicky Hayden.