Red Bull Motorsports
Between 2006 and 2018, Dani Pedrosa was one of the fastest and most popular riders on the MotoGP™ circuit with 31 Premier Class wins and 112 podiums, and now the Spaniard is back at the sharp end for the Styrian MotoGP™, competing as a one-off wild-card entry with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.
Before hanging up his helmet at the end of the 2018 season, Pedrosa established a record of finishing in the top five of the MotoGP™ championship 11 times in 13 campaigns and was a three-time runner-up. Following his retirement from racing, Pedrosa has been working with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, helping to turn the team’s KTM RC16 machine into a race-winning motorcycle in the hands of full-time riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira.
Pedrosa’s last MotoGP™ race start was way back in November 2018 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, where he finished fifth. He has since shared a race track with the current MotoGP™ field at both International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA) and private test days, and his appearance at the Red Bull Ring for the the Grand Prix of Styria on August 8 will represent his return to action and his first race start with KTM.
It’s been super-interesting to be part of this project from the beginning with KTM
Talking about his MotoGP™ return, Pedrosa said: “It’s been super-interesting to be part of this project from the beginning with KTM in MotoGP™ and being able to share my experience with them. Step-by-step we did the best we could and now it’s interesting again to go into a race because it gives you a different perspective compared to a normal test.
“It has been a long time since my last race and, of course, the mentality for a Grand Prix is very different to a test. My focus for the race is to try to test the things we have on the bike in a race situation. I wish to understand the requests riders might have for different sessions and technical features. It’s difficult to talk about my expectations after being so long away from competition. It might all click into a racing mentality or it might not, but we’ll try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can.”
Pedrosa's retirement brought the curtain down on a career famously blighted by injuries that often prevented him from challenging for a Premier-Class crown. He won the 125cc title in 2003 before claiming double 250cc titles in 2004 and 2005 and joining Honda a year later in MotoGP™ for what would be a 12-year stint.
Pedrosa fought era-defining battles for the MotoGP™ championship with three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and team-mate Marc Márquez, with his most memorable season coming in 2012 when he won seven races and notched up the most championship points ever scored by a runner-up.
Following a thrilling season-long battle with Yamaha’s Lorenzo, Pedrosa won six of the final eight races, however a DNF in the penultimate race at the Australian Grand Prix was enough to give Lorenzo his third MotoGP™ crown.
Even in competitive retirement Pedrosa remains one of the most recognisable names and faces in a long and illustrious list of motorcycling greats.
Commenting on Pedrosa’s competitive debut for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Mike Leitner said: “It will be curious to see Dani in MotoGP™ again. He has been away from racing for quite a long time but it will be valuable to have him in the garage at the Red Bull Ring to analyse the strong and not-so-strong parts of our KTM RC16 package in race conditions and it will give him a good indication for his testing work.
“Dani has had a big influence in our MotoGP™ project thanks to all of his experience. We want him to enjoy the Grand Prix! There are a lot of young, strong riders in MotoGP™ at the moment, so he will be busy, but this is a good way for him to learn more and feel the current benchmark in the sport and this will help us for future testing.”