Dani Pedrosa's challenge

The KTM rider reappears almost three years later at the Austrian brand's home. No rider has made a podium in MotoGP competing as a 'wild card'.


The MotoGP World Championship went on vacation with several fronts open: the new and improved version of Quartararo, the possible goodbye of Rossi, the evolution of Márquez ... However, all the songs that sounded louder in the spotlight have been eclipsed in a return that will have its own name in Styria: that of Dani Pedrosa. At 35, the Spaniard returns to competition 955 days later, putting an end to his MotoGP adventure at the 2018 Valencia GP, and will do so as a guest wearing KTM colors. Nothing to do with what had been witnessed so far in his adventure as a pilot within the premier class.

His return sounds like the dream comeback, a champion who returns to action at the home of a team like KTM that, in a high percentage, owes the loss of concessions and the two victories they already have in the World Cup to the one who is now his test pilot. It could almost be a tribute, since since Mattighofen they have always praised one of its “fundamental pillars”. And to be perfect, the script should only add to Dani's repair his presence on a podium that no MotoGP rider has reached to date competing under the 'wild card' label.

The pilot himself is aware that “it is difficult to speak of expectations after having been away from the competition for so long”. In addition, although not even three years have passed since the last time he was present on a starting grid, "there have been many changes": "The new generation is making a lot of progress. In addition, we can also see the speed at which it is being ridden today, the records fall every year and that means that the bikes are also constantly improving ”. But that last factor should not be a disadvantage, since Dani himself has been very much to blame for it. And in addition, he is in a position to do a great role for mount, talent and stage.

The KTM is the only bike that has managed to lead the Ducati from victory at the Red Bull Ring in the last five seasons. It is true that the revolution that MotoGP faces is undeniable, in fact it has been more than a year that no rider older than 30 years has managed to win in the category, but the precedents do give the possibility that Dani can reach the podium as they have already made other guests in 500cc. Kevin Magee in 1987 and Daryl Beattie in 1992 took advantage of their wild cards to finish in the drawer and although the goal of Mattighofen's team with Pedrosa is different from the start, if they are to dream, they can also believe in victory.

Different mentalities

Although his appearance was not strictly a wild card, Troy Bayliss' victory at the 2006 Valencia GP is the most remembered to date. As a reward for his SBK title, the Australian had the opportunity to fill in for the injured Sete Gibernau in the final round of that season and was a judge in a career momentous for Hayden and Rossi's championship aspirations. The Ricardo Tormo decided the displacement title, which fell on the side of the American, and yet the winner was a newcomer who closed the year in the best possible way. Although he did come full of the adrenaline of racing, something that will condition Pedrosa.

That he has not lost contact with the world of competition is undeniable, but “the mentality of a grand prix is very different from that of a test” and therefore, the first objective will be “to enjoy the weekend”. From there, Dani will work on new parts with which to continue promoting KTM since they no longer have concessions and do not enjoy unlimited tests during the season. And if the results end up arriving in the end, the celebration will be double. Because having a three-time champion on the asphalt again is the first party.

Photos from as.com
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